Goldenrod spider

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The goldenrod spider is a tiny invertebrate living in North America and Europe. This is one species of the genus of spiders known as crab spiders. They are called this because, like crabs, they can walk well sideways and backwards. It also holds its front two pairs of legs out to the side, making it look like a crab. Sometimes this species is called the flower crabs spider or the goldenrod crab spider.

This spider is unlike most in that it can change its color to camouflage itself. This is one of the only known spiders that can change its color! The color change does not take place quickly as it does in chameleons or octopuses. Instead, it can take up to three weeks for this spider to change its color.

The two pictures below show this spider camouflaged on two different flowers. It’s pretty easy to spot the one on the right, but the one on the yellow flower is almost perfectly camouflaged!

You may have noticed that the spider on the right has a red stripe on each side of its abdomen. This isn’t actually a part of its camouflage, but it is a marking most individuals have. Some of them have stripes like the one above has, some have spots there, and others, presumably like the one on the left, have no markings at all.

Males are quite different than females. They are not able to change colors, but instead, they are always colored dark yellow or brown. The picture below shows a male goldenrod spider.

Size

Another difference between the males and females is size. The females are much larger than the males. If you look at the picture of the male and of the females, you can see the male has a much smaller abdomen. What you can’t see as well is how they compare in length.

Males are about 0.1 inches (3-4 mm) long. This is less than the thickness of a No.2 pencil! Females are larger but still not very big. They can be about 0.4 inches (9-11 mm) long, which is the size of a U.S. penny. On average, the males are about 1/4 to 1/3 the size of the females.

Diet and hunting

Unlike most spiders, the goldenrod spider does not spin a web. Instead, it catches its prey more like jumping spiders do. They sit around on flowers and other plants and wait for suitable prey to come for a visit. The spider will then quickly jump out and ambush the insect, injecting its venom in the process. Goldenrod spiders use their color-changing ability to camouflage themselves from their prey.

The venom these spiders have lets them attack insects much larger than themselves. They will prey on flies, wasps, butterflies, and grasshoppers, but their favorite food is probably bees. Although theses spiders are venomous, they are not dangerous to humans because their venom is weak, and their fangs are too small.

Habitat and range

Crab spiders are found all over the world, but this specific species is found only in North America and Europe. A few sources said they are also found in Northern Asia, but most only mention North America and Europe.

These spiders can change their colors between white and yellow, so they are most frequently found in places with white or yellow flowers. These flowers can include daisies, sunflowers, and many other flowers, including, of course, their namesake flower, the goldenrod. These flowers are most frequently found in grassy areas, but woodlands and wetlands can also make suitable habitats for this spider.

Status and threats

The goldenrod spider has not been given a conservation status by any major association, but it is a quite common species with no need of protection. There are several predators this species has. These include wasps, ants, birds, lizards, shrews, and other spiders. The main protection this spider has is its camouflage. There are no major non-natural threats to this spider, which is probably a big reason why it isn’t threatened.

Reproduction and young

Not much is known about how these spiders choose a mate. The male will find as many mates as possible and dies the summer after he is born. After they do mate, the female lays the eggs, folds a leaf over them, and spins a cocoon around the leaf. This is the only time these spiders use their silk.

After the female lays her eggs, she will stop eating so she can guard them. About three weeks later, the eggs hatch and the female soon dies. By this time, it is almost winter, and the spiderlings develop even through the cold. The next summer and spring, they are mature and ready to mate and start the process over again.

Don’t forget to scroll down and comment your guess about what the next animal is!

Sources:

Photo credits:

  • Goldenrod spider – Wikipedia user: Roqqy
  • Male goldenrod spider –  D. Gordon E. Robertson
  • Camouflaged goldenrod spider –  Olaf Leillinger
  • White goldenrod spider – Wikipedia user: A1xjlq1
  • Mystery animal – Public Domain

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