Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

First spider for 2016

with 31 comments

Crab Spider on Prairie Verbena 6199

Along with the handful of bluebonnets I saw in Cedar Park on February 25th I also photographed a ring of prairie verbena flowers, Glandularia bipinnatifida, that a crab spider had claimed as its domain. The arachnophiles (or at least not arachnophobes) among you may click the excerpt below for a closer look.

Crab Spider on Prairie Verbena 6199 Detail

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 8, 2016 at 5:14 AM

31 Responses

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  1. Wonderful shot, Steven, of a very cool-looking spider. I’m still keeping my eyes open for my first spider. Temperatures are forecast to soar into the 70’s later this week, so the insects (and arachnids) are likely to be lively soon.

    Mike Powell

    March 8, 2016 at 5:28 AM

    • Given how long it’s been warm here, Mike, it’s surprising I didn’t get to photograph a spider even earlier in the year. I’d already had my chance with several insects, as you saw with the fiery skipper in the previous post. I hope yours are forthcoming, the creatures as well as your pictures of them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 8, 2016 at 6:29 AM

      • Yesterday I saw a couple of Mourning Cloak butterflies, but could not get shots of them. They overwinter as adults, so they are usually the first to appear. I’m hoping that I see my first dragonfly within the next month. It’s time to dust off my macro lens.

        Mike Powell

        March 8, 2016 at 6:38 AM

        • May your mourning, as well as the lifting of the cloak, come soon. As you’ve seen, I haven’t needed to dust off my macro lens. (Actually that would be true even if I didn’t take pictures for a while because the lens stays in my camera bag.)

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 8, 2016 at 6:46 AM

  2. Pretty great spider. Yesterday my kids and a friend and I were out in the field and we saw a garter snake out and about. We got to enjoy Sand Hill Cranes bugling past as well.


    March 8, 2016 at 8:35 AM

  3. Great shot, Steve. Though not everyone would agree, I’m as happy to begin seeing more insects (and spiders) as I am to see spring wildflowers.

    Marvin Smith

    March 8, 2016 at 11:55 AM

  4. The little crab spider has a scary face on its abdomen, almost skeletal. Such surprises in nature! The prairie verbenas are lovely, too. I haven’t see either before.
    I look forward to the bluebonnets!


    March 8, 2016 at 2:42 PM

    • The spider’s abdomen sure does look like a stylized skull-face, doesn’t it? Good of you to point that out.

      Prairie verbena is quite a common wildflower here. As for the bluebonnets, I haven’t yet seen a large colony of them, but a couple of days ago I did show an individual one that was developing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 8, 2016 at 2:53 PM

  5. My first thought was, “That spider is smiling.” Then, I looked at the abdomen and thought, “That spider’s making fun of the people who scream when they see him.” The abdomen pattern reminds me of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.”

    What really caught my eye is the beautiful blue here on there on the verbena. It’s a gorgeous color, and it’s fun to see the blue-purple contrast on the same plant.


    March 8, 2016 at 3:46 PM

    • Yes, that’s it! I knew the “face” on the abdomen reminded me of something specific but my memory refused to divulge “The Scream.”

      From a distance prairie verbena comes across as purple or violet, but a close look usually reveals bits of turquoise like the ones shown here. I can’t recall whether any field guides mention that. I’m inclined to say no, but it would be easy enough to check.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 8, 2016 at 3:54 PM

  6. Crabby little scream producer. I always look forward to seeing these in the garden, although I don’t imagine all my other bug favorites would agree.

    Steve Gingold

    March 8, 2016 at 6:02 PM

    • I like your unique description of a “crabby little scream producer” and your observation that other bug favorites wouldn’t be as happy as you to see it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 8, 2016 at 6:26 PM

  7. Uncovered a beautiful black widow in an upturned pot in my garden space. I returned it to how it was as she was apparently all dug in! Looking forward to seeing the larger garden spider variety, particularly with lots of young riding on her back. That’s how I know the garden is back in business!


    March 8, 2016 at 8:53 PM

    • I thought of you when I posted this, knowing your love of spiders and other critters. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black widow, but maybe someday I will. In the meantime, I’m glad to hear your garden is back in business, which doesn’t surprise me, given what a mild winter we had. Over here we even got some rain today, so I’m looking forward to a wildflower surge soon.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 8, 2016 at 9:01 PM

      • Definitely a spiderphile here! Your macros are crisp enough to gaze into his eyes. Appreciate the thoughtfulness and I’m hoping to be back to blog reading soon; hard to keep up with all life’s throwing at me at the moment. Glad to get ‘baited’ by you Steve. 😀


        March 9, 2016 at 6:51 AM

        • May your visits to this “bait shop”—or at least its subjects—never abate.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 9, 2016 at 10:03 AM

          • You know I’ll be back, even if in fits and starts. I still do hope to get video of the spider who sets up his big web each night only to take it in in the morning (before I walk into it). If only the orb weaver spiders were so courteous. I’ve had many-a huge spider land smack on my nose while riding the lawn tractor, dragging his net with him. Not sure who was more surprised…


            March 9, 2016 at 11:22 AM

            • People are a whole lot bigger but a spider in the face can be a whole lot scarier (at least to the owner of the face).

              Steve Schwartzman

              March 9, 2016 at 7:26 PM

  8. It’s a lovely spider and a gorgeous shot and you have excellent observational skills, Steve. 🙂


    March 9, 2016 at 3:32 AM

    • You may be right that my brain has gotten habituated to seeing these little spiders. I don’t know how much credit I can take, though, because it’s common that when I go to photograph a flower I find a little spider on it. Spiders hang out in places where they “know” that insects will come.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 9, 2016 at 9:54 AM

  9. That is a beautiful shot. The lavender of the verbena perfectly complements the silver tones of the spider. Thanks for sharing.


    March 9, 2016 at 7:35 AM

    • You’re welcome, Julie. The colors do make for a pleasant combination. This wasn’t the first time I’d found a crab spider on prairie verbena.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 9, 2016 at 9:56 AM

  10. This is truly breath taking! I love how the photo mainly focuses on the spider itself. It definitely sets the mood, has a story to tell, and many more. I also love how the purples surround the spider giving it more depth. You did an amazing job!

    Casey Butler

    March 9, 2016 at 11:29 AM

    • Thank you. Your analysis matches what I did: focusing on the spider, getting its main parts in focus while knowing that peripheral parts of the spider and many parts of the flowers would be out of focus because of the limits of the optics, even as the flowers taken as a whole would lend their color to the portrait.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 9, 2016 at 7:22 PM

  11. A very handsome spider who obviously enjoys purple. 😄


    March 9, 2016 at 12:48 PM

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