Ambushers and anglers

Crab or flower spider
Photographer: Dr Robert J Raven

Ambush and angler spiders show a degree of cunning about the way they go about catching their food. Some species in this group simply wait at places where insects feed and pounce on them when the unsuspecting meal makes an appearance. Others lay out sticky snare lines and reel the catch in when it becomes stuck. Others will weave a small net and hold it still until the target prey moves into the right position to have the net dropped on them. Many of the spiders in this group are masters of disguise since their primary means of feeding is being able to avoid detection. Among them are the flower spiders, bird dropping spiders and crab spiders.

Only about ten percent of Australia's described spiders fit into this group and practically all are harmless.


Crab or flower spider

Beautifully designed for near invisibility, the white crab spider (Thomisus spectabilis) sits in the petals of white flowers, waiting for the flower's pollinator to come along. The abdomen is yellow or white and the rest of the body and legs are a pale creamy white. A single spider will occupy the flower until it wilts and the spider moves off to find a fresh one. The spiders are active during the day and males look just like females except for their slightly smaller size. These spiders do not have a shelter to live in but the females will fold over the tip of a leaf and secure it with silk to provide for an egg chamber.

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