Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Crab spider on Texas thistle

with 26 comments

Spider on Texas Thistle Flower Head 2349

What would spring be if I didn’t show you at least one Texas thistle (Cirsium texanum)? This one carries the bonus of a tiny crab spider in the genus Mecaphesa.

Today’s photograph is from the Purgatory Creek Natural Area in San Marcos on April 27.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 20, 2016 at 5:07 AM

26 Responses

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  1. Lovely shot. I find crab spiders hard to shoot, given their color. Well done.

    Victor Rakmil

    May 20, 2016 at 5:36 AM

    • I’m glad the macro lens could resolve the tiny hairs on the spider. I often see crab spiders on lighter-colored flowers that offer camouflage. Here the color of the thistle made a nice contrast and enhanced the photograph.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 20, 2016 at 8:08 AM

  2. At first glance, focused on the spider, I saw your name as a thread of spider silk. Of course, that would mean the crab spider had some competition for prey, since the crab spiders don’t create webs. Still, it’s an interesting effect — and who doesn’t like the color and detail of a blooming thistle?


    May 20, 2016 at 6:40 AM

    • Maybe I should make like Al Hirshfeld and see in how many places I could hide versions of my name in some of my photographs. Steve could become the Nina of nature photography.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 20, 2016 at 8:12 AM

  3. What a spectacular pic! Great details, shapes, colors, contrasts! With a little closer look, had to chuckle. IMHO, the spider’s abdomen resembles a whitish, laces-out, deformed football that exploded at one end.


    May 20, 2016 at 7:27 AM

    • What a coincidence: just yesterday when looking at an old post I noticed a comment from you, and now here you are.

      I thought you might be the first person ever to mention football in a comment here. When I checked I found some other occurrences, but you’re the first to refer to a football itself rather than the sport or field named for the ball. Until your explanation I didn’t see and wouldn’t have seen the spider’s abdomen that way. I expect the spider is happy that one end of its abdomen didn’t explode.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 20, 2016 at 8:21 AM

  4. Such detail! I was surprised to see hairs on the abdomen (so appropriate for a thistle spider!) as our crab spiders seem to have smooth bodies.


    May 20, 2016 at 8:53 AM

    • I take more closeups than landscapes (although I do my share of those when appropriate) because of the little details a macro lens can bring out. The hairs on this spider were the feature that made the picture for me, too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 20, 2016 at 9:04 AM

  5. Great shot! I love those little spiders but haven’t seen one yet this year.


    May 20, 2016 at 7:38 PM

  6. he is so beautiful ❤ love this photograph


    May 20, 2016 at 9:33 PM

  7. I love crab spiders. They are so interesting and such good models. Not many others in the insect world (they are not really insects) will sit so still for so long. It’s funny how they sometimes take position on a flower whose color they are unable to mimic. I usually find them on goldenrod or boneset. Maybe the abdomen counts.

    Steve Gingold

    May 21, 2016 at 10:08 AM

    • I like them too because I so often find them on the flowers I’m photographing. As you say, they tend to hold their ground, which gives us ample time to take pictures. The fact that you’ve noticed plenty of these spiders on flowers of a different color seems to mean that any camouflage on similarly colored flowers is merely coincidental.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 21, 2016 at 10:16 AM

      • Not at all. The species Misumena vatia does actually change its color although, to the best of knowledge, that is limited to yellow and white.

        Steve Gingold

        May 21, 2016 at 10:24 AM

        • Good point. I wonder if spiders that can change color (to whatever extent) have a better survival rate than similar ones that can’t change color.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 21, 2016 at 10:31 AM

          • Well, in the case of eating, it certainly makes a difference for the spider’s survival.

            Steve Gingold

            May 21, 2016 at 10:36 AM

  8. Wonderful photo Steve! 😃


    May 22, 2016 at 2:17 AM

  9. […] far in space or time from where I photographed the crab spider on a Texas thistle at the Purgatory Creek Natural Area in San Marcos on April 27th, I saw Acmaeodera beetles on […]

  10. Crab spiders are of special interest, I believe, to some arachnophiles like us. It seems a strange perch, though, as it seems that all those spikes from the flower head must get in the way of the quick grab that is necessary to secure sudden prey. Yet another reason to admire them!


    September 1, 2016 at 10:24 PM

    • You raise an interesting question. Perhaps the spider had recently eaten and therefore wasn’t on the prowl for prey at the time I took its picture. Or are spiders always ready to grab another victim, even if they don’t immediately eat it? You can see how little I know about spiders.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 2, 2016 at 5:17 AM

      • It could well be resting post-prandially. Since they don’t wrap up a new catch for later attention (I’ve seen them drop a meal when they’re finished with it), it could certainly be that they just look for a comfortable spot to wait until they get hungry again. I sometimes feel just like that too, so I understand quite well.


        September 2, 2016 at 4:43 PM

        • I didn’t know that crab spiders don’t wrap up prey the way some other spiders do.

          One other possibility occurred to me: my close approach and close movements might have caused the spider to move out from a more recessed place in case it felt the need to get away.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 2, 2016 at 4:53 PM

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