Local crab spiders are quite common in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. Hikers must be searching for specimens, since these crab spiders are so well camouflaged that they escape casual observations.
Experts say that there are at least 200 species of crab spiders in North America. Most crab spiders are predators that lie in wait to ambush their prey; flower crab spiders rest on flowers and remain motionless for long periods of time. Ambushed butterflies, bees, flies, and other insects are quickly immobilized by the potent venoms injected by the crab spider. Unlike most spiders, crab spiders do not surround their prey by wrapping their captive with silk, but remain with the immobilized prey until the prey is sucked dry.
(Also see another example of a crab spider.)
Copyright © 2006 William T. Hathaway.