Friday, July 28, 2006

Flower Danger

A few days ago I read a very interesting post at Burning Silo about little critters called Ambush Bugs, or phymata (meet the phymata, and see also more on the phymata). Bev has some fantastic photos of these things--they look like dinosaurs, but so tiny. They hide in flowers and ambush prey many times their size. In the post and comments Bev suggests checking yarrow, Queen Anne's Lace, and some other flowers for them, and that the easy way is to scan for larger insects in odd postures. So I went out to look.

What's that wasp doing?

A big beautiful Queen Anne's Lace has volunteered itself in a garden bed just in front of the house. Very hot day yesterday (and probably again today), humid and smoggy, so I was pleased to find something interesting so close. Walked over to take a look.

That's no phymata.

A flower crab spider (probably the goldenrod, Misumena vatia) had a good hold of the much larger wasp. I wrote about these spiders in Rugosa Drama, a story about their activities on the big Rosa rugosa alba in front of the house. There are only a few blossoms on the rose now, but apparently no end to the opportunities in the garden for ambitious ambush predators.

Submitted to Friday Ark #97


Anonymous said...

Nice shots of the Misumena vatia, Pamela. I've been seeing many very large ones around the farm this summer. Also saw and photographed several nice big ones while in Nova Scotia a couple of weeks ago. I suspect that the wetter weather and abundant wildflowers (and insects) has been very favorable to them.

Pamela Martin said...

Thanks, Bev. I suspect we have more of these spiders here this year than usual, though not noticeably larger--but am not sure, since I'm also better at finding them this year.

It certainly is a year of abundance in lots of ways.

Anonymous said...

what I really find fascinating about 'crab spiders' is their ability to change colors.. I've found white ones on white flowers, yellow ones on yellow flowers, etc.. nature never ceases to amaze me. Great photos!

LauraHinNJ said...

Really neat pics - amazing what you'll find when you go out looking.

Pamela Martin said...

Thanks, Cindy. I've yet to see a yellow one this year (I think I've seen one in the past, but not in "full awareness") I'll be watching the goldenrod (for which the spider's named after all), just coming into its own right now.

Thanks, Laura. I'm having a lot of fun looking at these smaller members of the community. So much to see!