Tag Archives: arachnids

Plant-Insect Interaction: Flower crab spider on a common tansy

Of the approximately 130 species of crab spiders (Araneae: Thomisidae) found in North America, only about 20 are known to regularly inhabit flowers. These ambush predators wait patiently for pollinating insects to move close and then grab them with their long front legs. … Continue reading

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Insect-Arachnid Interaction: Spider wasp with a banded argiope

Like other orb-weaving spiders, banded argiopes (Araneae: Araneidae: Argiope trifasciata) build big, elaborate webs to ensnare the insects that they feed upon. Some insects, however, turn the tables on these large predators. A number of different wasps hunt spiders like these, … Continue reading

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Random Arachnid: Banded argiopes at dawn

Spider webs are far more visible when they’re covered with dew, and this morning I saw scores of them filling the low foliage of a local meadow. Although many different spiders build many different kinds of webs (and some don’t … Continue reading

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Insect-Arachnid Interaction: Slender crab spider feeding on a signal fly

Many spiders build webs and passively wait for prey animals to be ensnared in their traps. Others like crab spiders (Araneae: Thomisidae) don’t build webs, but still passively wait to ambush prey. Some spiders, however, are active predators that stalk … Continue reading

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Random Arachnid: American dog tick

Found throughout eastern North America and parts of the Pacific coast, American dog ticks (Ixodida: Ixodidae: Dermacentor variabilis) are well-known parasites of mammals. After hatching these arachnids go through three life stages from larvae to nymphs to adults. At each … Continue reading

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Plant-Insect-Arachnid Interaction: Crab spider waiting for a meal on a white turtlehead

Several genera of crab spiders (Araneae: Thomisidae) are usually found on flowers, and for good reason. Many flowers attract insect pollinators, so they’re great spots for spiders to ambush prey. I found this particular crab spider hanging out on a … Continue reading

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Random Arachnid: Banded argiope

While walking through a meadow near Clayton, Michigan the other day I came across this impressive banded argiope (Araneae: Araneidae: Argiope trifasciata). Also known as banded garden orbweavers, these large and brightly-colored spiders are widespread throughout the United States. At about … Continue reading

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Random Arachnid: Tarantula

A few weeks ago a friend and I were driving down Kings Canyon Scenic Byway at Kings Canyon National Park in east-central California.  Along the way he suddenly exclaimed something like “holy crap I just saw a crab run across … Continue reading

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Kings Canyon National Park: An exciting confluence of biology, geology, and sheer beauty

While out on a recent business trip to California’s Central Valley, my business partner and I found time to make quick trips to several of the local national parks.  After hitting Yosemite on the first day, we completed our work … Continue reading

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Plant-Insect-Arachnid Interaction: Flower crab spider waiting for a meal on a roughleaf dogwood

I often come across crab spiders (family Thomisidae) whenever I’m looking at flowers, and I’ve written about them twice before.  Last fall I found one waiting for prey on a daisy fleabane, and last month I found one that had … Continue reading

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Plant-Arachnid Interaction: Comb-footed spider on a spotted ladysthumb

While out in a floodplain forest in southern Michigan, I came across a lot of spotted ladysthumb (Polygonum persicaria, Polygonaceae).  Introduced from Europe, this invasive plant is very common in this area.  While photographing the foliage, I noticed several leaves … Continue reading

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Plant-Insect-Arachnid Interaction: Flower crab spider devouring a flower fly that was pollinating a cutleaf toothwort

Last week I spent some time examining flowering plants, looking for insect pollinators.  I came across this flower fly (family Syrphidae) with its behind sticking out of the inflorescence of a cutleaf toothwort (Dentaria laciniata, Brassicaceae).  It was probably enjoying … Continue reading

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Random Arachnid: Jumping spider

Although I’ve covered jumping spiders (family Salticidae) once or twice before, these little guys are too cool to pass up.  As is often the case, this individual was hopping around on a plant looking for insect prey to ambush.

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Random Arachnid: Jumping spider

Jumping spiders (family Salticidae) seem to be everywhere right now.  They seem to be fond of crawling around on plants and waiting for insects to get close, and then pouncing, paralyzing, and feeding on them. This particular spider seemed to … Continue reading

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Random Arachnid: Velvet mite

This tiny red thing isn’t an insect, it’s an arachnid known as a velvet mite (family Trombidiidae).  It really stood out against the white flowers of this Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota, Apiaceae). This specimen was probably on the hunt … Continue reading

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Insect-Arachnid Interaction: Jumping spider feeding on a katydid

Jumping spiders (family Salticidae) are active hunters.  They don’t rely on webs to capture prey, they ambush it.  They’re capable of leaping several times their own body length in this endeavor.  Just prior to jumping, they attach a strand of … Continue reading

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Plant-Insect-Arachnid Interaction: Flower crab spider waiting for a meal on a daisy fleabane

Although there are nine genera of crab spiders (family Thomisidae), only three of them are known to inhabit flowers.  The spider above is probably among these three:  either Misumena, Misumenoides, or Mecaphesa.  A clear view of the eyes would be … Continue reading

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Daddy long-legs spider wrapping and feeding on a blow fly

Here’s a short video clip of a daddy long-legs spider (family Pholcidae) wrapping up a blow fly (family Calliphoridae) that was caught in its web.  After immobilizing the prey, the spider appears to deliver its venom and/or begin feeding.  Recorded … Continue reading

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