Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Spider on Texas groundsel

with 32 comments

Spider on Texas Groundsel by Bluebonnets 1983

In many places along the highways in Llano County on April 7th I saw colonies of Texas groundsel, Senecio ampullaceus, some flowers of which provided the background color in the previous photograph. When I took a close look at a few opening buds of that species on TX 71 about 10 miles east of Llano, I noticed this elongated spider from the family Philodromidae and the genus Tibellus (thanks to Joe Lapp for the identification). The made-up name Philodromidae means ‘loves to run,’ and this spider did move around on the opening buds to avoid a close encounter with my macro lens, but to say it ran might be an exaggeration—or else you could consider it poetic license of the arachnid kind.

The contrasting color in the background this time is from some of the many Texas bluebonnets, Lupinus texensis, that were flowering in even more places than the groundsel.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 26, 2015 at 5:19 AM

32 Responses

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  1. Love the deep blue background. The spider looks as though it is doing stretch exercises; warming up for the running!


    April 26, 2015 at 5:33 AM

    • On this outing I found myself prompted photographically into background color contrasts by the combinations of colors I saw in the abundant wildflowers. There’ll be a couple of other color contrasts in the coming posts from this session.

      I’ve noticed that certain spiders elongate themselves, some even more than the one shown here. One hypothesis is that they do that to make themselves appear longer than they really are and therefore seem more formidable to a potential predator. Another hypothesis is that the more linear the spider can look, the less a predator may notice it. Or maybe you’re right that these spiders do just like to stretch as preparation for running.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 26, 2015 at 7:15 AM

      • Whatever the reason for the elongation, I prefer a spider to be on a flower and not in my bed, like the one I discovered scampering across my bedsheets the other day.


        April 28, 2015 at 1:09 AM

  2. I’m extremely fond of spiders and you’ve showcased this one beautifully! Lovely yellow and blue contrast too, Steve.


    April 26, 2015 at 6:22 AM

    • Australia’s a good but dangerous place to be extremely fond of spiders in, given that you’ve got some of the most venomous ones on earth there. The one shown here is harmless to people, but Texas does have a couple of colorfully named venomous species that occasionally bite people: the black widow and the brown recluse.

      As for color contrasts, I often look for them in my photographs, and on this outing I found plenty.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 26, 2015 at 7:31 AM

  3. What I especially like in this photo is the way the elongated spider mirrors the vertical ribbing in the buds. The color’s lovely, but the relationship between spider and buds is really cool.


    April 26, 2015 at 10:01 AM

    • It’s rare that I find as good a match of textures as here between the spider and the buds, and that makes the picture all the more special. Thanks for noticing it. The color contrast is a more-familiar bonus.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 26, 2015 at 11:12 AM

  4. Very nice, Steve. I enjoy finding spiders and insects on flowers. As much as I enjoy shooting flowers, it is always nice to have a special guest participant.
    I am no expert…I tried clicking your link for Joe but it didn’t work…but this looks like a Nursery Web Spider (Pisaurina dubia)…which could just mean that there is more than one with this appearance and behavior.

    Steve Gingold

    April 26, 2015 at 10:29 AM

    • Thanks for pointing out the non-functioning link to Joe Lapp’s site. It was working when I prepared the post but even if I try to get to the site through Google now, it’s not working. I don’t know what happened but I’ll alert Joe.

      Like you, I’m happy to find little critters on the flowers I photograph, but I know so little about insects and spiders that I turn to other people for help with identifications. I think you’re right that there’s more than one kind of spider with this general appearance. I’ve found the opposite to be true as well: members of the same species can sometimes look different, and in some cases those differences have caused biologists to mistakenly think they were dealing with different species.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 26, 2015 at 11:26 AM

      • It turns out that Joe Lapp is moving to a different host. I’ve updated the link in my text so it points to Joe’s blog.

        Steve Schwartzman

        April 26, 2015 at 12:08 PM

        • Thanks for updating the link. I am no expert but it seems he is. So mine obviously must be a look-a-like. Insects and spiders…which ain’t insects…as a group can be quite confusing. Moths really can be tough. A little squiggle in a trans-meridian line on the upper forewing or something can make all the difference.

          Steve Gingold

          April 26, 2015 at 12:28 PM

  5. Beautiful, Steve.


    April 26, 2015 at 1:08 PM

  6. Super shot!


    April 26, 2015 at 1:30 PM

  7. A great shot. It really shows how elongated this spider looks

    Raewyn's Photos

    April 26, 2015 at 3:23 PM

  8. Very, very nice this picture. Love this spider.

  9. wow. so beautiful.


    April 26, 2015 at 9:33 PM

  10. I love this photo!


    April 26, 2015 at 10:13 PM

  11. Me too! What an elegant looking spider. Pure heaven to be standing in a field of lupines and to see this.


    April 27, 2015 at 8:57 AM

    • I think most people wouldn’t look at a picture of a spider and think “heavenly,” even with a flowering colony of lupines behind it. Some of us have rarified tastes, right?

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 27, 2015 at 12:57 PM

  12. Nature has given such wonderful camouflage to insects and plants for their personal safety. This spider, nearly hidden above the groundsel, is a perfect example.

    Mary Mageau

    April 27, 2015 at 7:10 PM

    • I’ve seen various examples of camouflage in nature, Mary, but the best ones are the ones I didn’t notice.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 27, 2015 at 7:47 PM

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