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! #BenInNature
About this post: Social distancing can be difficult, but the next few weeks present a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. While he is working from home,
Administrator of Science Ben Williams is venturing outdoors each day to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world.
This post brought to you by VMNH Corporate Supporter Linda and Roscoe Reynolds.
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