Thursday, March 4, 2010

Buggin' Out On Thursdays :: Crabby Spider Promises She's Not Shelob's Sister

Peaches The Ground Crab Spider
Xysticus species

"Don't squish me! I look wicked like Tolkien's Shelob but I'm not interested in biting you or Frodo!"

I was sweeping the kitchen floor the other day when I looked down at my little pile of dirt and spied a very creepy looking spider. A little yelp of surprise escaped from my lips and I went into fight or flight mode for a second but the spider just sat there quietly. From my vantage point I thought it might be a Mutant Giant Tick like one you'd see in an old Sci-Fi Flick! Yikes. Then I thought maybe she was Shelob's baby sister. Again, yikes.

Once I figured out the "thing" wasn't going to come skittering after me like a ravenous monster it didn't take long before I had slipped a sheet of paper under her and placed a glass jar carefully over her so I could get a closer look. The spider remained very still. Not long after that and I had removed the jar and started taking macros so I could run to and see what everyone thought about my new "bug".

Mandy at BugGuide was very helpful - she's Spiderwoman! She mentioned the star of today's blog post is a spider whose species has not yet been identified in the guide. My spider and the rest of her species are a uniform peachy red (in low light she may even look brownish until you get her out in the sun). I learned the only way to truly identify a spider at the species level is to have an entomologist study the adult spiders "private parts". The appropriate term for this on a female spider is the epigynum (to learn more check out this short article at Museum Victoria). I sure wish I had taken some underbelly shots of my buddy, Peaches, so I could help identify her species for the guide. Maybe next time!

Here are four fast facts about ground crab spiders:
  • They are not poisonous to humans
  • They aren't normally found in the home and hunt outdoors
  • Rather than spin a web, they lay in ambush for prey to pass by
  • Crab spiders can walk forwards, backwards, or sideways - just like a crab!
It's Buggin' Out On Thursdays!

What kind of bugs have you seen lately?


  1. After you took its picture, did you stomp on it? (Just kidding--I'm sure you carefully and gently took it outside to a safe place).

    It does looks sort of "tickish."

    I'm learning a lot from your bug series. Thanks!

  2. Heck no I didn't stomp her, I took her outside as you predicted. :)

    To get spiders outdoors I put a glass jar over them, slip a piece of paper under the jar and gently nudge the spider onto it. Then I get a magazine or cardboard and slip that under the paper being careful not to injure the spider - after that it's easy to pick up the whole contraption (keeping hold of jar so it doesn't slip) outside where the spider is set FREEeee! :)