WARNING: Arachnids Ahead! If you have a phobia of spiders, you might want to skip today’s post! (Being a Master Gardener, I love these beneficial critters!)
After 3 days of searching, yesterday morning I finally found one of my favorite prairie critters, the Ridge-faced Flower Spider (Misumenoides formosipes). These spiders are pretty small (normally the females are 5-11 mm, while the males are usually 2.5-3 mm). And they usually “hide” within the flower head of the prairie wildflowers. Here are my favorite catches yesterday. In this first image, the capture was right after sunrise and both the spider and wildflower were covered with a heavy dew:
Later, the dew had evaporated and the nice, early morning sun spread over the spider/flower:
These small, whitish-yellow or yellowish-brown crab spiders are quite colorful, as you can tell from the above photos. In fact, they camouflage quite well when on a yellow wildflower! When around our yellow wildflowers, I usually set my camera/tripod down, don my reading glasses, and closely look all over the flower heads … on a good day, I will find a few of these beauties! Interestingly, I never see any of these spiders until the end of summer/beginning of fall. Doing some research, I found that there are thousands of minute crab spiderlings that reside in the flower heads, in both spring and early summer. But they are so small, they are extremely difficult to see until they mature (late summer or early fall). Their food source is small insects that happen to wander to the wildflower flowers, with a large portion of their diet being bees, flies and other spiders (esp. other crab spiders). Some of their favorite flowers include fleabanes, asters and goldenrods, although I’ve had success finding them in the coreopsis/sunflower plants, too.
These spiders are found statewide in Missouri, in open fields and gardens that contain many composite-type flowers.
These images were shot with the following equipment:
- Canon 7D body
- Canon 180mm macro lens
- Canon 1.4x Teleconvertor
- Bogen 3221 tripod, with Kirk HD ballhead
- ISO 800 and 1600 (depending on the lighting and the activity of the spider)
- Shutter 1/100 to 1/250 (depended on the lighting and the ISO setting)
- Aperture: varied to capture different depth of field (DOF)