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Ornithomya avicularia
find out more... Ornithomya avicularia female 20160624-6051 Copyright: Phil Collins

Essex Field Club
Essex Field Club
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no 1113963
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Crab spider Misumena vatia

Misumena vatia Copyright: Peter Harvey
© Peter Harvey

Misumena vatia-white form Copyright: Peter Harvey
© Peter Harvey
Misumena vatia is a crab spider sometimes found in gardens, as well as in tall open grassland, woodland edge and open scrub habitats in the countryside. It may be found in the vegetation, or sitting on a flower head waiting for prey. In these situations its camouflage make it difficult to see until it moves, especially as the colouring may vary through white, yellow and greenish to match the flower. Only mature females can undergo background-matching colour changes. Some females have red anterior, dorso-lateral lines or spots which appear to be genetically determined and are unaffected by the background colour. Mature males are much smaller and with predominantly brown legs (below).
Misumena vatia male Copyright: Peter Harvey
Adults of both sexes have been recorded between May and August, but mainly in May and June.

The best distinguishing features are the body shape, legs and habit of sitting camouflaged in flower-heads. There are several different colour forms, not always as in the illustration. Also bear in mind that other crab spiders have similar legs and move in a similar way.

Misumena map
In Britain it has a strongly southern distribution (see map taken from the Provisional atlas of British spiders (Arachnida, Araneae), 2002).

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