20160614 Bugs, including a White Crab Spider ambush.

After launching Floatboat II, we checked out the Solomon’s Plume for the White Crab Spider  —  this one, with a little web, posted in a previous post:

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It was too windy to find the spider, so we went to the end of Riverside Drive looking at what we could see.  And we had some pleasant visits with folks who gave me some good information about what had been seen in their neighbourhood.

This  is what we photographed:

See the little greenish seed pod in the uppermost blossom?  That blossom has been pollinated and the pod is emerging.  In a few days the remainder of the bloom will disappear leaving the naked pod to mature and to release it’s “peas” to the environment.

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Beetle (I think)  sucking up nectar from the Ox-eye Daisy.

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Green grasshopper resting after springing from a blade of grass where it had been chomping on the unfurling part of the stalk.

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One of  Laurie’s favorites, chewing its latest meal of insects caught on the wing.

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I noticed that there were a lot of these Skippers flitting about on the vetch and occasionally on the Ox-eye Daisies near the “turn-around”:

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Here is the story behind the photo below:

With naked eyes I saw this skipper on the Daisy (across from “George’s Last Resort”).

When I stopped to photograph it I noticed its curled proboscis — very strange.  [Normally the proboscis is curled like that as the butterfly approaches the nectar source prior to extension as seen in the above photo (taken 13 minutes earlier).  After extension it it re-coiled and retracted as the butterfly flies to the next blossom.  I’d never seen the situation below where the butterfly is on the flower with coiled proboscis.]

Then I noticed the White Crab Spider in the viewfinder.

Then I noticed  the death grip that the spider had imposed on the skipper.

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I spent a long time on the internet to learn more about this “Ambush Spider” which lies in wait for its prey.

This is one of the better photographs (of the spider in attack position) of Thomisidae:  Misumena vatia   , apparently a common spider in our environment.   In its white form it often ambushes from the Common Yarrow, which I often photograph for the fun of it.

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From now on, I will look a lot more closely at Common Yarrow and at Goldenrods when they appear in a few weeks.  Who knows?  I might see another Goldenrod Spider !

“Goldenrod Spiders eat insects, either by hunting on the ground, or by ambushing from a flower. They especially attack bees, butterflies, and flies which visit flowers for nectar. Grasshoppers and other plant-eating insects are also frequent prey.  Goldenrod Spiders have small jaws which contain venom. This venom allows them to take on animals much larger than them.  Usually, the Goldenrod Spider grabs its prey with its front legs and injects the venom. It then sucks all the body fluids from its prey.”

That site also helps to explain why this spider is so difficult to research … It’s ability to change colour enables it to pose as a White Crab Spider or as a Goldenrod Spider.  Hence the change in common name and consequent difficulty in getting a good handle on its behaviour.

If you scroll back up to the photo of the fatal attack, click on the image to get a close up view of the effects of the ambush and the position of the spider’s mouth on its prey.

Interesting stories when learning about our everyday natural environment, eh?

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