Last week I was watching the sunset from our veranda when I found this brilliant little lady in one of my railing pots:
A gorgeous crab spider, waiting amongst the flowers for an unwary pollinating insect to come by. She’s not exactly camouflaged to my eyes, but insects see differently. In particular, bees have a range of vision that includes ultraviolet, and white spiders reflect ultraviolet light quite strongly. Oddly enough, bees seem to be attracted to spider-occupied flowers in which there is a great color contrast as viewed by the bee (check out this abstract if you want to know more).
Clearly this spider’s coloration works, because when I went out to check on her the next day, this is what I found:
Which is really impressive when you think about it; that bee is the same size as the spider! And has wings and a stinger. It must have been one hell of a fight.
The spider sucked on the bee all day long, and dropped the husk in the plant that night. As a parent of a teenaged boy, I must honor the ability of any creature to out-eat our son. Even our kid couldn’t consume his own body weight in a day, though he’d be delighted to make the attempt.
The next day it was rainy and windy, and when I checked on my spider buddy I found her tucked down in the protection of the leaves. The day after, she was nowhere to be seen, and I worried. (It’s true, I worry about spiders.)
But the day after that, she was aloft in one of the flower spikes again, hunting. I think perhaps she just didn’t need any food after that giant meal, and thus didn’t put herself out where she could be picked off by a bird. After all, there is a thin line between hunter and hunted.
I saw her again the other day. She seems about 25% larger, so I think she’s had another bee in the meantime. It’s an odd thing—I rescue bees that get trapped in our flat, and at the same time I’m rooting for the spider to catch them. This is why I’m a terrible sports fan: no allegiance whatsoever.
Go, little lady, go!