Misumena – Flower Crab Spider

The misumena, commonly called flower crab spider, is a genus of spiders that hunt their prey in or around flowers. The most common misumena species in North America is misumena vatia, commonly called the goldenrod crab spider or also just flower crab spider.

The Golden Rod Crab Spider has the ability to change its color from white to yellow to match the flower it is waiting in. It is therefore one of the only spider species in the world that can change its color. It does so by adding a yellow pigment into its outer skin layer. The entire process of color change is not immediate but takes around 10-25 days.

By autumn, young flower spiders reach a size of about 5mm (0.20in). They are spending the winter months under the ground and molt one last time in the May of the following year.

Misumena vatia goldenrod crab spider on a sun flower
The goldenrod flower crab spider after changing its color to yellow sitting on a sun flower.

Misumena Description

The Flower Crab Spider can have several different looks to them, as their bodies will match the terrain they are hunting. Often, they will come in a white or yellow color. Sometimes even green or brown. Golden Rod Crab Spiders usually have a colorful stripe (Pink, Purple, Blue, etc…) along the side of the abdomen.
The front two pairs of legs are longer than the third and fourth pair of legs. They also will often spread the first two sets of legs out to the sides of them with the two on each side held tight to each other.

Misumena white flower crab spider Vermont
A beautiful white flower crab spider seen by Susan in Vermont. It’s abdomen looks almost like the face of a mime

Size

The Flower Crab Spider is a smaller spider, which will only grow to a little larger than 1/4 of an inch (6mm) and around 5/8 inch (16mm) including the legs. The male flower crab spider is only about a third as large as the female, reaching no more than 0.2 inch (5mm).

Web

The Flower Crab Spider is a hunter and does not use a web to catch prey. Instead, it will wait inside a flower or low vegetation, and wait patiently for a bee or another insect to come along.

Color change of flower spider
The flower crab spider in its white color. Photo: Phillip Grames – Michigan

Flower crab spider bite

The bite of the Flower Spider is little to no risk of danger. They are a non-aggressive spider, and will try to run, or hide, rather than attack, but a bite is very possible if they are handled. Their bite will cause some local pain that will fade after time.

Flower Crab Spider Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Arachnida
  • Order: Araneae
  • Infraorder: Araneomorphae
  • Family: Tomisidae
  • Genus: Misumena

Common names

Flower spider, flower crab spider

Distribution of flower crab spiders in the USA

Spiders of the misumena genus can be found in every US state and in the entire northern part of the world, including Europe and Asia. Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Misumena – Flower Crab Spider

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