There are approximately 200 North American species of Crab Spiders. These spiders are usually flat and move sidewise. A crab-like appearance accounts for their name; all the legs extend sideways.
This specimen is lying in wait for the unfortunate insect that happens to visit too closely. A pair of claws (lunch hooks) are stretched out from the spider's two forward legs. With a poisonous bite their prey is killed and sucked dry.
I photographed this specimen nestled in a terminal flower of the troublesome weed called Spotted Knapweed.
(Also see other examples of crab spiders.)
Copyright © 2005 William T. Hathaway.