Ben is away from the museum this week ...

Ben is away from the museum this week ...

Ben is away from the museum this week, so we're reaching into the archives for today's #BenInNature update presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust! The following post was originally published on May 20, 2020.

There are several animals famous for being able to change color, such as the chameleon or the octopus. Did you know that some spiders can change color, too?

This is a small female Misumena vatia, commonly called the goldenrod crab spider. As the name suggests, these spiders commonly hunt for prey in sprays of goldenrod flowers. However, they're not exclusive to goldenrods, and sometimes they'll hunt on white flowers; depending on the flower, they can change color from yellow to white!

Unlike a lot of animals that can change color (also known as "active camouflage"), this process isn't particularly rapid. It takes about 25 days for the spider to go from white to yellow, but it only takes about a week for it to change from yellow to white. This particular spider appears to be somewhere in the middle, which is why it's a greenish color.

This camouflage is extremely effective. It allows the spiders to hide from predators inside bright yellow or white flowers. The spiders also don't have to expend quite as much energy hunting, because their prey (pollinating insects such as bees) comes to them.

Thank you to VMNH Associate Curator of Invertebrate Zoology Dr. Kal Ivanov for confirming my ID!

ABOUT #BenInNature
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends. This series of posts is made possible thanks to the support of VMNH Corporate Partner Carter Bank & Trust (

If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!

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