Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Another new place

with 30 comments

Crab Spider on Pink Evening Primrose Flower 4673

So there I was on September 4th working for the second time in a week at a new place, this one the margin of a pond between Dessau Rd. and Knowell Dr. in a recent subdivision on the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin. At one point I noticed a couple of pink evening primrose flowers, Oenothera speciosa, that had strayed into reality several months beyond their normal time in the floral calendar here, and when I knelt to photograph one of them I found a crab spider on it. The pointy yellow structure at the bottom of the picture is the sheath that originally enclosed the flower’s bud.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 7, 2015 at 5:21 AM

30 Responses

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  1. Beautiful photograph and description.


    September 7, 2015 at 5:35 AM

  2. Lovely and colorful photo! And interesting text 🙂 Bye. K

    Kamila Pala

    September 7, 2015 at 6:11 AM

  3. Such a delightful little surprise! And I really enjoyed your phrase ‘strayed into reality’ past their time on the calendar.

    Birder's Journey

    September 7, 2015 at 7:23 AM

    • That phrase suddenly came to me and I liked it. I’m pleased that you do too.

      I often find spiders hanging out on flowers, presumably to wait for insects attracted to those flowers. One consequence is that spider silk often gunks up a flower that I’d prefer to have a pristine shot of.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 7, 2015 at 7:30 AM

  4. Sooo beautiful!


    September 7, 2015 at 7:24 AM

    • It was a welcome find near the end of summer, given that these flowers normally inhabit the spring.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 7, 2015 at 7:32 AM

      • I am looking forward to the fall, it’s the time to go outside more in Florida.


        September 7, 2015 at 10:24 AM

        • People in Texas likewise welcome the fall for the lessening of the heat and therefore greater comfort when going out. It’s still the case in early September that I come back from a couple of hours in nature, as I did a short while ago, with my clothing soaked through with sweat—and it’s only mid-morning.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 7, 2015 at 10:38 AM

  5. I like crab spiders a lot and I like this picture a lot. I am kind of disappointed to have not seen one yet this year…guess I haven’t looked hard enough.

    Steve Gingold

    September 7, 2015 at 9:48 AM

    • Maybe they’re not as common up there as they are in Austin, where it’s not unusual to find one when I’m going for a close-up of a flower, as I was with this pink (and therefore not yellow, like most) evening primrose.

      Thanks for letting me know you like this picture a lot. I was happy to find and be able to record this colorful little scene.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 7, 2015 at 10:12 AM

      • I think it’s me…we’ve had them on several different flowers here over the years, but I just haven’t found any yet. Still time on the goldenrod.

        Steve Gingold

        September 7, 2015 at 10:26 AM

        • Yay, goldenrod: I’ve begun to notice plants but it’s still too early here for flowers, although one precocious one looked like it wasn’t that far away.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 7, 2015 at 10:41 AM

  6. Speaking of seasonal change, I was out and about yesterday, and Snow-on-the-Prairie was thick in Chambers County. So were rain lilies, and water lilies at Anahuac. The lotus were plentiful, but fading fast, and the purple Gallinule have mostly moved on. I saw the red beak of one, and one juvenile, but that was it. Next year, I’ll have to go earlier, heat or no heat. I found several flowers I couldn’t identify, so that’s a project for the future.

    I thought you’d juxtaposed the evening primrose with a fig. The shape and color are so similar, it looked as though the spider was coming over for a little snack. Of course fig season’s over, and I’ve never seen primrose growing around fig trees, but there are strange and marvelous things out there: in new places and old.


    September 7, 2015 at 9:35 PM

    • You’re more fortunate than I this year when it comes to snow-on-the- because I haven’t seen a big colony of either -prairie or -mountain, only a few isolated plants of each species. The same goes for the rain-lilies, primarily because the site that’s been most reliable for the past few years has become a construction zone adjacent to Mopac, where a toll lane is being added in each direction (and after two years the project is at least a year behind schedule).

      Your mention of a fig as a potential snack reminds me that biologists believed until recently that all spiders are carnivorous, but then a species was found to be largely vegetarian:


      So there are surprises not only in new places and old, but new beliefs and old.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 8, 2015 at 3:14 AM

      • The old expression about the exception that proves the rule comes to mind. I never understood that saying, but I never took the time to explore it until right now. I found two explanations.

        The first said, “‘The exception that proves the rule’ is an exception to a generally accepted truth. This is an archaic use of the word ‘prove’, which means ‘to test’. It does not mean that it demonstrates a rule to be true, but that it tests the rule.”

        Then, I found this:

        “It’s a legal maxim, established in English law in the early 17th century. Written, as law was in those days, in Latin,Exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis is interpreted to mean ‘exception confirms the rule in the cases not excepted’

        It has (slightly modified) examples in print going back to at least 1617: Collins: ‘Indefinites are equivalent to vniversalls especially where one exception being made, it is plaine that all others are thereby cut off, according to the rule Exceptio figit regulam in non exceptis.

        While not the earliest citation, this, from Giovanni Torriano’s Piazza universale di proverbi italiani, or A Common Place of Italian Proverbs, 1666, expresses the idea clearly: ‘The exception gives Authority to the Rule.'”

        I don’t suppose the vegetarian spider cares either way, as long as it can find some lunch.


        September 9, 2015 at 7:07 AM

        • The first explanation is the one I’m familiar with and believe to be correct. The Latin verb probare has given English the doublets probe and prove, with their different slicing of the semantic pie. We probe a situation in hopes of proving something to be true. The distinction wasn’t always so clear between the two forms, as when prove could once convey the sense that probe alone of the two now retains. Almost no one today who says “The exception proves the rule” thinks about how strange and contradictory the claim is, given the current sense of prove. How could an exception, which by definition defies a rule, confirm that the rule is true?

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 9, 2015 at 8:34 AM

          • Um . . . shoreacres recently commented over my way about “all this erudition,” but I beg to differ, particularly after reading this exchange. Clearly wherever shoreacres and Steve S are in conversation, erudition is to be found, not to mention pithy conclusions like this: “I don’t suppose the vegetarian spider cares either way, as long as it can find some lunch.”

            Susan Scheid

            September 20, 2015 at 9:39 AM

            • The word erudition is interesting in its own right. The literal sense is ‘a taking out (ex-) from the condition of being rude,’ where rude had its original senses of ‘unformed, rough, wild, uncultivated,’ rather than the current ‘impolite.’

              Steve Schwartzman

              September 20, 2015 at 10:12 AM

  7. A spider and a beautiful flower…how can I not like this shot! 🙂


    September 8, 2015 at 1:11 AM

  8. Después de un verano ausente he repasado tus trabajos fotográficos y como siempre me han parecido excelentes. Hoy para ti la protagonista es la flor, pero es la araña cangrejo la auténtica reina de la foto. Su enfoque es perfecto. Y el conjunto, por supuesto, maravilloso.
    Saludos y abrazos.

    Isabel F. Bernaldo de Quirós

    September 8, 2015 at 4:57 AM

    • Estoy de acuerdo contigo, Isabel, que la araña es la auténtica reina de la foto. Me gustó la sorpresa de encontrarla sobre la flor, que con su color y su forma contribuyó a la belleza del reino.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 8, 2015 at 5:11 AM

  9. That crab spider sure knows how to strike a pose . . .

    Susan Scheid

    September 20, 2015 at 9:34 AM

    • I think that this was where I initially found the spider, but as I kept taking pictures it moved around.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 20, 2015 at 10:00 AM

  10. fantastic!


    September 23, 2015 at 9:49 AM

  11. Spiders scare me, but this image is beautiful

    My Small Surrenders

    September 25, 2015 at 9:05 PM

    • Quite a few people don’t like spiders, but I’m glad you overcame that to appreciate this photograph.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 25, 2015 at 9:32 PM

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