Watch My Food Grow ~ A South Florida Raised Vegetable Garden

Florida Backyard Raised Vegetable Garden

Spiney-backed Orb-weaver

July 24th, 2013 by Lila Steinhoff

aka Crab Spider

Today, I watched a crab spider maneuver a fly that was twice as big as she was. I have seen many insects stuck in spider webs, but I have never seen any spider with a fresh catch.

crab spider with fly

Crab Spider with Fly

My yard has scores of crab spiders. Crab spider is the  common name for the spiny-backed orb-weaver, or if you want to get really scientific, Gasteracantha cancriformis.

You can identify a female crab spider very easily. The bright red spines and her black-spotted, white abdomen make her immediately recognizable. A quick glance is not enough. I have been known to stop  and stare on a regular basis. I am totally fascinated by them.

crab spiderCrab Spider and Web

I never bother crab spiders. In fact, I go out of my way to avoid disturbing their webs. They are great at controlling mosquitoes and gnats in the yard and on the screened pool deck.

Not Your Usual Spider

dorsal side of crab spiderDorsal Side of a Crab Spider

Female crab spiders are not quite a half an inch in diameter. The dorsal side of the female’s abdomen is dark with small spots. The male crab spider is much smaller than the female… about a third of her size and has no spines. The male’s colors are similar to the female, but where she is white, he is grayish.

‘Will you walk into my parlour? said the spider to the fly.’

I am fairly sure that most people are familiar with Mary Howitt‘s poem, The Spider and the Fly. The minute I saw this crab spider with a grip on her lunch, I thought of this poem. Later in the day, I listened to a reading of the poem online. Seeing the crab spider was good, and being able to listen to Howitt’s poem made even better.


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