Spider That Looks Like a Crab: Discover This Unique Species

Have you ever come across a spider that resembles a crab? Well, let us introduce you to the fascinating world of crab spiders. These small to medium-sized spiders are named for their crablike appearance and unique ability to walk sideways.

Crab spiders are known for their flat bodies and stout, robust legs. Their front two pairs of legs are longer than the third and fourth pairs, which allows them to easily grab their prey. They can be found in various environments, such as flowers, where they wait patiently to ambush insects that come their way.

So, if you happen to come across a spider that looks like a crab, now you know that it’s likely a crab spider. These intriguing creatures showcase just how diverse and fascinating the world of spiders can be.

Crab Spiders Overview

Crab spiders, belonging to the Thomisidae family, are often mistaken for crabs due to their unique appearance. These spiders, found across North America, possess intriguing features and characteristics. In this section, we’ll explore three specific spider species that closely resemble crabs: Misumena Vatia, Misumenoides Formosipes, and Gasteracantha Cancriformis.

Misumena Vatia

The Misumena Vatia, also known as the flower spider or goldenrod spider, is an arachnid commonly found in North America. To blend in with their environment, these spiders can change color from white to yellow over a span of 10 days, often matching the flowers they reside on. Some key features of the Misumena Vatia include:

  • Red racing stripes
  • White or yellow coloring
  • Crab-like legs

Misumenoides Formosipes

The Misumenoides Formosipes, or whitebanded crab spider, is a small spider species characterized by its whitish-yellow or yellowish-brown color. The carapace of the whitebanded crab spider can appear slightly greenish, with a broad pale yellow midband bordered by two darker, thinner yellowish bands on the sides. Notable characteristics of the Misumenoides Formosipes comprise:

  • Crab-like legs that extend sideways
  • Ability to walk in any direction
  • Typically found in flowers

Gasteracantha Cancriformis

The Gasteracantha Cancriformis, commonly referred to as the spiny orb-weaver or crab-like orb weaver, is another interesting species in the arachnid world. With its flattened, spiny abdomen resembling the shape of a crab’s shell, this spider is truly a sight to behold. Distinctive traits of the Gasteracantha Cancriformis include:

  • Six sharp spines on the abdomen
  • Brightly colored markings
  • Unique web-spinning behavior
Spider Species Coloring Additional Features
Misumena Vatia White, Yellow (can change) Red racing stripes
Misumenoides Formosipes Whitish-yellow, Yellowish-brown Greenish carapace
Gasteracantha Cancriformis Varied, often bright Six spines on abdomen

By exploring these three fascinating spider species (Misumena Vatia, Misumenoides Formosipes, and Gasteracantha Cancriformis), you’ve gained insight into the diverse world of crab-like spiders. The unique features of each species within the Thomisidae family are a testament to the remarkable adaptability and specialization found within the arachnid kingdom.

Physical Characteristics

Color and Appearance

The crab spider is known for its crab-like appearance. The legs extend outward from the sides, allowing them to walk in any direction. In terms of color, these spiders can vary quite a bit. They can be:

  • Whitish-yellow or yellowish-brown
  • Slightly greenish with a broad whitish-yellow midband
  • Yellow-brown with greenish markings

You can also find variations with a red stripe and even some that appear pink or black.

Size and Length

Crab spiders are generally small in size, and their body length can vary depending on the species. Some common sizes you might encounter are:

  • 3/8 inch in length for brown recluses
  • Larger species like the yellow garden spider can have a body length of over an inch

Always remember that their actual size may vary depending on their age or other circumstances.

Exoskeleton Details

The exoskeleton of a crab spider provides essential protection for the spider. Some distinctive features include:

  • Spiny hairs covering the carapace, abdomen, and legs
  • Six eyes arranged in pairs, which is a unique characteristic for certain crab spiders like the brown recluse
  • Dark violin-shape on the cephalothorax (head) in some species

These details help identify different crab spider species in the United States.

Habitat and Distribution

North American Habitats

In North America, crab spiders can be found living in various environments. They are especially common in woodland areas where they blend in among plants and leaf litter. Some species might also reside on tree bark or under rocks. Here are some examples of where you may find crab spiders in the United States:

  • Flowering plants
  • Tree bark
  • Leaf litter
  • Woodlands

South American Habitats

Down in South America, crab spiders have adapted to various habitats as well. From Mexico and Central America down to the southern tip of the continent, these spiders can be found in similar environments to those in North America. The main difference is the types of plants and vegetation these spiders might inhabit. Some South American habitats for crab spiders include:

  • Tropical forests
  • Savannas
  • Grasslands
  • Mountain regions

Caribbean Habitats

In the Caribbean, crab spiders prefer warmer climates where they can reside in various plant species native to the region. The diverse flora of the Caribbean allows crab spiders ample opportunities to camouflage themselves and hunt their prey. A few examples of Caribbean habitats for crab spiders include:

  • Palm trees
  • Coconut trees
  • Flowering shrubs
  • Coastal dunes

Crab spiders have a broad distribution, but their habitats tend to have similar characteristics. These spiders are found in environments where vegetation is abundant, allowing them to blend in and capture prey effectively.

Diet and Prey

Common Prey

Crab spiders, as their name suggests, look like crabs. They mainly feed on insects that are attracted to flowers. They are known for preying on bees, butterflies, and other pollinating insects. In some instances, they might also prey on smaller ant species. Some examples of their preferred prey include:

  • Honey bees
  • Bumblebees
  • Monarch butterflies
  • Swallowtail butterflies

Keep your focus on pollinating insects and remember the diet of crab spiders primarily revolves around them.

Hunting Method and Strategy

Crab spiders use a unique, passive hunting strategy called “ambush predation” to catch their prey. When hunting, a crab spider will position itself among the petals of a colorful flower. Their color-matching ability helps them blend in with their surroundings. As pollinating insects, like bees and butterflies, come to collect nectar from the flowers, the crab spider seizes their prey.

Here are some key features of their hunting strategy:

  • Camouflage: Crab spiders can change their color to effectively blend in with the flower they are using as their hunting ground.
  • Ambush: By staying still and waiting for their prey to approach, crab spiders conserve their energy and remain undetected by their unsuspecting victims.
  • Speed and Strength: When the moment is right, crab spiders quickly grab their prey using their powerful front legs.

In summary, remember that crab spiders attract their prey by camouflaging themselves among flowers. By doing so, you can understand the role that pollinating insects play in the diet of these unique spiders.

Behavior and Lifespan

Ambush Predators

As an ambush predator, crab spiders like the whitebanded crab spider and the northern crab spider use their crab-like legs to walk in any direction, often waiting patiently in flowers for prey. They capture their prey simply by grabbing and biting it.

These invertebrates are venomous, using their fangs to inject toxins into their prey. This venom helps in immobilizing and digesting the prey. Their venom is generally not harmful to humans.

Reproduction and Egg Sac Details

Female crab spiders can be distinguished by their larger size and distinctive markings. Male crab spiders are smaller in size with thinner, longer legs. Mating can occur when a male spider approaches a female and signals his intentions.

Once mating has occurred, the female crab spider will create an egg sac. The egg sac is made of silk, and it serves as a protective container for the eggs. Here are some key features of crab spider egg sacs:

  • Made of silk
  • Can have different shapes and sizes
  • Protects eggs from predators and harsh environmental conditions

After laying the eggs within the sac, the female crab spider takes a protective role by guarding the sac until the spiderlings emerge.

Overall, the behavior and lifespan of crab spiders focus on their role as ambush predators and their reproduction process involving the egg sacs. They are fascinating creatures with unique abilities that help them survive and adapt to their environments.

Related Spider Species

Huntsman Spiders

Huntsman spiders (family Sparassidae) are known for their impressive size and speed. They’re often compared to crabs due to their flattened bodies and long, crab-like legs. Some common species of huntsman spiders include the Golden Huntsman Spider and the Pantropical Huntsman Spider.

Here are some features of huntsman spiders:

  • Flattened bodies
  • Long, crab-like legs
  • Agile and fast moving
  • Non-aggressive

Selenopidae

The Selenopidae family, also known as wall spiders, are another group of spiders that resemble crabs. They have wide, flattened bodies and legs that extend from the sides. These spiders can also walk in any direction, further contributing to their crab-like appearance. Like huntsman spiders, Selenopidae are harmless to humans.

Selenopidae characteristics:

  • Wide, flattened bodies
  • Legs extending from the sides
  • Capable of walking in any direction

Philodromidae

Philodromidae, or running crab spiders, have a more elongated body shape compared to other crab-like spiders. Although not as flattened as huntsman spiders or the Selenopidae family, they still possess the characteristic legs that extend outwards. These spiders are adept at running and camouflaging themselves into their surroundings.

Some features of Philodromidae include:

  • Elongated body shape
  • Outward-extending legs
  • Excellent running and camouflaging abilities

Here is a comparison table of the different crab-like spider families:

Spider Family Body Shape Leg Position Movement
Sparassidae Flattened From the sides Fast, agile
Selenopidae Wide, flattened From the sides Walk in any direction
Philodromidae Elongated, slightly flattened Outward-extending Running, camouflaging

In summary, there are several spider families that possess crab-like features, including the huntsman spiders (Sparassidae), wall spiders (Selenopidae), and the running crab spiders (Philodromidae). Each family has its distinct body shape, leg positioning, and movement capabilities. Understanding these differences can help you better identify and appreciate these unique arachnids.

Identifying Crab Spiders

Spider Identification Basics

When it comes to identifying crab spiders, there are a few key features to look for:

  • Crab-like appearance: Their legs extend outward from the sides, resembling a crab.
  • Unique walking style: They can walk in any direction, similar to a crab’s movement.
  • Varied coloration: Crab spiders can be found in white, yellow, brown, or greenish hues.

These spiders belong to the Thomisidae family and can be difficult to identify by their genus. However, you can still differentiate them based on their physical characteristics and habitats.

Crab Spider Picture Guide

A helpful way to identify crab spiders is by looking at pictures. Comparing them can provide insight into their distinct features. For example:

  1. The whitebanded crab spider (Misumenoides formosipes) is small, with a whitish-yellow or yellowish-brown body and slightly greenish carapace. It has a broad whitish-yellow midband bordered by darker yellowish sides. More information here.
  2. The northern crab spider (Mecaphesa spp.) has spiny hairs covering its body and greenish-yellow or yellow-brown markings. It can be tough to identify, even for experts. Learn more about this spider here.
  3. The flower spider (Misumena vatia), also known as the goldenrod spider or red-spotted crab spider, comes in white or yellow with red racing stripes. They can change color within 10 days to blend in with their surroundings. See images of this spider here.

Remember, always refer to reputable sources for images and information, since crab spider identification can be challenging even for experienced enthusiasts.

Conclusion

In conclusion, you’ve learned about the fascinating whitebanded crab spider, which resembles a crab with its legs extending outward and walking in any direction.

These tiny wonders are commonly found in flowers, capturing their prey by simply grabbing and biting it. Their color can range from whitish-yellow to yellowish-brown with hints of green on the carapace.

Another similar arachnid is the northern crab spider. Similar to the whitebanded crab spider, they have various color combinations and spiny hairs on their body.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this brief introduction to the world of crab spiders and developed an appreciation for their unique adaptations. Remember, spiders play an important role in our ecosystem by controlling insect populations. So, the next time you encounter a crab spider, take a moment to observe its incredible appearance and behavior.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Giant Crab Spider in Guam

 

unidentified spider
i just moved to guam 4 months ago, and since then there have been 3 giant spiders that have graced our front patio. i’ve enclosed 2 pictures that i took of the last one. it is about the size of my entire hand (my hand span is 5 1/2 inches from tip of middle finger to bottom of palm and from tip of middle finger to tip of thumb is about 7 inches) this thing terrifies me. i’ve heard that it is a wolf spider and very poisonous on guam. my husband used an entire can of raid spray before it finally died, and this was after it started chasing us down. so, it is huge and very aggressive. what is it? is it poisonous? can it hurt my puppies? i also think i found a baby one in my bathroom, which is disturbing, and it was about the size of a nickel. please enlighten me!
thank you very much,
monica

Hi Monica,
Fear not. The Giant Crab Spider, Heteropoda venatoria, is harmless. Your photo is of a male spider. These spiders are virtually ubiquitous in warm ports around the globe. They are also known as Huntsman Spiders or, because they sometimes find their way into markets on bunches of bananas, Banana Spiders. They do not build webs, preferring to hunt at night. A favorite food of theirs is Cockroaches, so they are more than harmless, they are beneficial.

Letter 2 – NOT Donkey Spider but Giant Crab Spider from West Indies

 

Bug Man,
I wanted to know what this guy was. I live in St Kitts, W.I. and the students call them donkey spiders. The only thing I found about “donkey spiders” on the internet was just other students talking about them. I think this one came in my apartment to read his last rights before dying. He wasn’t very lively. Do you know what they’re really called? Thanks you
R Fields

Hi R. Fields,
Though we have never heard the name Donkey Spider, we like it, and we are ready to add it to the common names for the Giant Crab Spider, or Huntsman Spider, or Banana Spider. This is a harmless nocturnal hunter that feeds on cockroaches. Thanks for adding a wonderful new name for these fascinating spiders.

Update: (02/05/2007)
About ‘Donkey Spider from West Indies’
Hi again Daniel and Lisa Ann,
I was interested to see the Giant Crab Spider or Banana Spider (Olios sp.) from St. Kitts; images which R. Fields sent in on 1/25/2007. I vacation on Nevis each year and St. Kitts is the sister island, only 2 miles away. English names are notoriously unreliable, but I believe that the creature which is usually referred to on St. Kitts and Nevis as the ‘Donkey Spider’ is the Antillean Tarantula, (Acanthoscurria antillensis), which is furry and colored like a donkey. The image of the one I found on Nevis is on your Spider Page 8, listed as ‘Caribbean Tarantula (10/05/2006)’ and described as a Donkey Spider. On the same page there is an image of what is probably the same species, ‘Tarantula from Dominican Republic (01/05/2007)’. I believe that on St. Kitts and Nevis, the giant crab spider (Olios sp. of the Sparassidae) is usually called a ‘Banana Spider’ or a “Yellow Spider”. Of course the two species are not at all closely related, but they are the two biggest spiders on those islands, they both only come out at night, and so I suppose some people might confuse them one with the other. They both can bite if you hassle them enough, but neither is dangerous to people. Best,
Susan J. Hewitt

Letter 3 – Giant Crab Spider from Maldives

 

Spider In Kandooma Maldives
Wed, Jan 7, 2009 at 12:13 PM
Dear bugman, We found this spider in out open-air bathroom in December, on Kandooma Island, Maldives. It seems to have some legs missing. The tiles were approx an inch square so it gives some idea that this spider was approx 3 inches across. My daughter has worked on the island for 9 months and it’s the first time she ever saw one there. What was it & was it poisonous? Thanksso much, Edwina from UK.
Edwina
Kandooma Island, Maldives

Giant Crab Spider
Giant Crab Spider

Hi Edwina,
This is a Giant Crab Spider in the family Sparassidae, but we are unable to identify the species.  Many spiders in this family are nocturnal hunters that do not build webs.  We frequently see individuals from the genus Olios with missing legs.  The Giant Crab Spiders are sometimes called Huntsman Spiders.

Letter 4 – Grass Crab Spider from South Africa

 

Subject: what is this?
Location: Johannesburg South Africa
November 21, 2015 9:26 am
Hi
Hope all is well.
I found this on my car this afternoon and would like to know what it is.
Thanks
Signature: Warren

Grass Crab Spider
Grass Crab Spider

Dear Warren,
We believe we have correctly identified your Grass Crab Spider in the genus
 Oxytate thanks to an image posted on Craniac’s Place which led us to the more reputable Biodiversity Web.

Letter 5 – Giant Crab Spider from Barbados

 

Subject: Spider
Location: Barbados
September 20, 2014 1:21 pm
Has been in my bathroom in Barbados for the last few days. Shows no fear of me but tends to stay high on the wall.
Signature: Huh?

Huntsman Spider
Huntsman Spider

Dear Huh?,
This is a Huntsman Spider or Giant Crab Spider in the family Sparassidae.  These are hunting spiders that do not build webs, and their presence is frequently tolerated in warmer climates as they help to control the populations of Cockroaches and other undesirable insects inside the home.  We believe this is a female
Heteropoda venatoria.

Letter 6 – Green Crab Spider

 

Subject: Little green spider
Location: New Braunfels, TX
April 27, 2017 12:11 pm
Please let us know what kind of spider this is. We live in New Braunfels, TX.
Signature: Thank you, Roxann

Green Crab Spider

Dear Roxann,
We believe we have identified this green Crab Spider as
Misumessus oblongus, not because of the Insect Identification for the Casual Observer site which does not allow use or duplication of their content without permission, but because of this image on BugGuide.

Letter 7 – Giant Crab Spider from Honduras

 

Large spider in Roatan, Honduras
Sun, Jun 28, 2009 at 10:18 AM
We came across this spider crossing the road at night in Roatan Honduras. We were going to put something next to it to measure it, but right after I snapped the picture, a local ran up and stomped on it.
From leg-tip to leg-tip was about 5-6 inches.
-cd
Roatan Honduras

Giant Crab Spider
Giant Crab Spider

Dear cd,
Those locals have no respect for wildlife.  We believe this is a Giant Crab Spider in the family Sparassidae, possibly the Banana Spider or Huntsman Spider, Heteropoda venatoria.  That species is native to Asia, but has spread around the world in warmer countries with the popularity of bananas and the resulting agriculture and trade.  It is a hunting species that is nocturnal.  We would gladly defer to an expert who can provide more conclusive information.

Letter 8 – Giant Crab Spider from Costa Rica

 

Subject: What sort is it?
Location: Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
August 3, 2016 6:47 am
Saw this spider eating a cricket in our home in Costa Rica. The spider was pretty hairy and had a big body (between 1 and 2 cm).
What sort is it?
Signature: Marc

Giant Crab Spider eats Cricket
Giant Crab Spider eats Cricket

Dear Marc,
There is not enough detail in your image to make out the eye arrangement, which often helps to identify a family, but the long front two pairs of legs indicates that this is probably a Giant Crab Spider or Huntsman Spider in the family Sparassidae, but we cannot be certain of the species.

Letter 9 – Giant Crab Spider eats Gecko

 

Wolf Spider Eating Gekko 4 inches accross
I have submitted my photos before my friend loves your site and asked me to submit again. http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattbatt/943440659/in/photostream/ this has the picture and the story and there are more photos that you are free to put up on your site. “So I moved a sawhorse in my shed and a medium large Gecko lizard went scurrying toward the corner of the shed. It’s not unusual to see lizards and geckos in my yard. Geckos are very fast and I have never been able to take a picture of one. But this Gecko stopped behind a lawn chair so being curious I pulled the chair back to revel the Gecko on it’s back tail wiggling like a worm. Thats odd I thought so I looked closer and there to my amazement was the Largest Wolf spider I have ever seen. It caught the Gecko while it was running and had a firm grasp of it’s neck. At first I was startled but my next thought was Where is my camera? I got the camera and in that time the spider had moved up the wall with the gecko in it’s mouth. … I grabed the tape measure for a size reference I didn’t get too close with it I didn’t want to scare the spider off. The tape is a couple inches closer to the camera than the spider but it’s close enough to be a good measure of the spider. “
MattBatt

Hi MattBatt,
First, let us apologize for missing your photos the first time you sent them. We cannot even read every letter we receive. Your photos are great, but they are not a Wolf Spider. This is a Giant Crab Spider, probably in the genus Olios. Sadly, you did not provide us with a location.

So sorry I live in Orlando FL I have several large oak trees in the back yard so it’s nice and damp and dark back there. I have not seen the spider since the day after when she was fat and happy. My mother and wife continue to harass me about the fact that I didn’t kill the spider. Thank You for Identifying it. I looked at the pics of the crab spider and wolf spider but couldn’t make an ID on my own. Thanks
MattBatt

Hi again MattBatt,
Thanks for the information. In a most general way, our identification has not changed, but now we believe your Giant Crab Spider might be a female Heteropoda venatoria, also known as a Huntsman Spider or a Banana Spider, two names also shared with different species. We located a photo on BugGuide that matches yours and also one on a Florida Nature website. While this is definitely a Giant Crab Spider, we cannot be certain of the species.

Letter 10 – Giant Crab Spider takes refuge in coffee cup

 

Large Spider in vehicle
June 13, 2010
This was in my coffeee cup in the m oning in my Ford Ranger, apparently crawled in through the window.
Jon Carlson
Yucca Valley Calif.

Giant Crab Spider

Dear Jon,
Are you entirely sure you didn’t pick up this Giant Crab Spider at Mickey D’s as some unordered protein with your morning coffee?  This Giant Crab Spider is probably in the genus Olios, and you can compare your image to photos posted to BugGuide.  Giant Crab Spiders are harmless hunting spiders with nocturnal rambling habits.

Giant Crab Spider

Letter 11 – Hibernating female Giant Crab Spider, or is that an egg bag?

 

Subject: Adult spider in a cocoon
Location: Mesa, AZ
November 6, 2012 4:55 pm
Cocoon measures approx. 1.5 inches across. Found attached to a piece of wood in Mesa, AZ. Spider appears to be alive but dormant. The cocoon was very hard to tear open. I was surprised to see an adult spider inside. I can send bigger pics if need be. Any idea what it is?
Signature: Nathan

Dormant Female Giant Crab Spider

Hi Nathan,
This sure looks like a female Giant Crab Spider or Huntsman Spider, Olios peninsulanus, when compared to this image on BugGuide, though she may be another member in the same genus.  We are very curious about the circumstances of this sighting.  We will contact Eric Eaton to see if he knows anything about Giant Crab Spiders going dormant.

Eric Eaton Responds
Daniel:
I am guessing that this is how they overwinter.
Eric

Wow, what a cool spider. My kids are home schooled so we are always on the hunt for something to get them excited. This spider sure got them excited. Thanks for the ID!
“These spiders generally settle into one place only at egg-laying time. Females produce large egg bags that they hide in and guard.”
http://www.desertmuseum.org/books/nhsd_giantcrab_spider.php

Hi again Nathan,
Thanks for the additional link.  We aren’t certain of the species, but we are confident with the genus
Olios identification.

Letter 12 – Red Banded Crab Spider probably

 

What is it?
I found this black and stark white spider on a sage bush in my backyard. I live in Manhattan Beach, California. Do you know what it is? Thanks,
Cathy

Hi Cathy,
This is a female Crab Spider in the family Thomisidae. Many spiders in this family are highly variable in coloration. We believe this to be the Red Banded Crab Spider, Misumenoides formosipes. According to a San Diego website: “The female’s color pattern is variable; the body is white to yellowish in color. The carapace has wide lateral bands and there are paired markings are on the abdomen ; the bands and markings are black to reddish in color. The abdominal markings may be pale and indistinct. The legs have reddish bands. The color pattern for males is similar to the female’s but generally with red or brown legs.”

Letter 13 – Maimed Crab Spider

 

found in house with clothes
Dear Bug Detective:
I found this spider on the floor after shaking out some clothes that had been waiting too long for laundering. The second picture better shows its coloration. You will see that he lost a leg during capture maneuvers. He walks a bit sideways and contracts smaller when confronted, drawing his legs back so that that swoop back and the front aim forward.
Thanks for any help with this.
The Wards

Dear Wards,
I don’t know how this poor maimed Crab Spider, Family Thomisidae, found its way into the dirty laundry. They generally wander over the ground, climbing flowers and plants in search of prey. They do not spin webs. There are over 200 North American species. They are harmless.

Letter 14 – Misumena vatia: Flower Spider

 

Crab spider ??
Found this guy inside my house . Couldn’t get a great picture as he was along a ledge. My thought is some type of ‘CRAB’. Am I correct?
David Burnett
Winnipeg, Canada

Hi David,
You are absolutely correct. Your Crab Spider, Misumena vatia, is also known as a Flower Spider or Goldenrod Spider. It is able to change color to match the flower it is sitting upon while waiting to pounce upon pollinating insects like bees.

Letter 15 – Giant Crab Spider: Foreign Invader or Movie Extra Escapee???

 

Identifying Spider Fri, Nov 28, 2008 at 12:31 PM
I found this spider when I reached for my soap dispenser in my bathroom! It was in June. The spider was approximately 2″ by 2″. My husband captured the spider on the side of a kleenex box and he “thinks” it made it safely outside. I have not seen it since. By the way, we live in the town where the movie “Arachnophobia” was filmed. Thanks for you help!
Judy
Central Coast of California

Giant Crab Spider:  Foreign Invader or Movie Extra Escapee???
Giant Crab Spider

Hi Judy,
We thought your spider looked like one of the Giant Crab Spiders, but we didn’t recognize it, so we wrote to Eric Eaton. Here is his response: “Daniel: The spider is a male in the family Tengellidae, related to giant crab spiders. I believe it is an introduced species, native to somewhere overseas, but not recognized as dangerously venomous. Might be in the genus Titiotus, but not sure. There should be some online fact sheets about it since it is such a large spider and easiy commands attention. Eric” Eric’s response made us ponder the possibility that perhaps several of Aracnophobia’s extras escaped and found your town to their liking. It would be an example of life imitating art. We were also quite impressed with your bathroom. Since our recent remodel, we have white bathroom tile with white grout, but it seems our grout always looks dingy. We would love to hear your cleaning secret.

Letter 16 – Giant Crab Spider with Spiderlings: one from our archives now a Facebook sensation

 

Facebook-group picture sparks curiosity
February 26, 2010
Well hello there anthropod lovers!
You’d be forgiven for reading this and thinking “this guy cannot possibly be serious” but this really intrigued me. There’s a facebook group entitled “if i saw this in my house I’d run” and their image is this one. I’m unsure as to whether the picture is original or tampered but that’s not the issue really i suppose, what is this spider? I’m almost convinced that it’s a huntsman spider of some sort but being a chemist not an anthropod expert I don’t have any reference material to look this up! Either way, that looks like one proud mother.
Also, although the picture quality could be better, it looks almost as if the larger spider is slumped – i’ve heard of spiders that are their babies’ first meal on hatching, could this be one of them?
(and to think some people complain about mothers breastfeeding, there are more objectionable ways for a mother to give her babies a good, natural start and you don’t see the arachnids complaining! imagine the fuss if the triplets suddenly turned to cannibalism on the bus instead, talk about controversy)
Thanks in advance for your time, it’s obviously understandable if you can’t reply 🙂
Andy
Unknown, Sorry

Giant Crab Spider with Spiderlings

Hi Andy,
Your letter and the attached image has us very curious in the light of the facebook group because we posted this image in March 2008 and made it the Bug of the Month at that time.  Now we are wondering if we had been duped because the image was sent by two different people then.   Neither person who submitted the image had taken the photo, but one person named Craig Baugher said the photo was taken by his friend in Los Angeles.  The photo might have already gone viral on the internet at that time.  We have learned to be very careful and now we try to only post images when we are certain that they have been taken by the person who submits the identification request, but we are not infallible.  The quality of the image we posted is better, and it is cropped differently, which leads us to believe that the current facebook sensation was not snatched from our site, but it may have been part of the original “chain” email and had gotten degraded along the way.  Due to the nature of the internet, we now doubt the authenticity of the claim in the letter we originally received that the photo was taken in Los Angeles since that could have been part of a hoax, though that is still possible.  We never conclusively identified the spider beyond the family level of Sparassidae, the Giant Crab Spiders, but Heteropoda venatoria in that family has a very wide distribution, especially in port cities, and that is surely a possible species in this case.  Heteropoda venatoria has several common names including Huntsman Spider.
Giant Crab Spiders do exhibit maternal behavior.  We are posting our version of this photo with your letter since it is higher quality, but when we have the time, we might search the archives on our other computer to see if we reduced the resolution on the original digital file.

Thanks for the speedy reply, and also apologies because I always say “anthropod” instead of “arthropod” – it’s really embarrassing. Curiosity is partly sated for now, but it is a voracious beast.
thanks again,
Andy

Letter 17 – Green Crab Spider from Malaysia

 

Any idea what this bug is?
Location: Penang,Malaysia
December 5, 2010 8:22 pm
Dear bugman,
I found this bug flying the last night near my laptop.The next morning i woke up and found it on my laptop and wondering this bug might be.Thought of helping it to find food or maybe to bring it back to the nature.It should be around an inch size.Mind identifying this?
Thanks,
Peng
Signature: Pengz

Probably Crab Spider

Dear Peng,
Your photo is blurry, but the extremely long front legs relative to the rear legs indicate that this is most probably a Crab Spider in the family Thomisidae.

Karl Confirms and provides a species
Hi Daniel and Peng:
I think you are right Daniel, it is probably a Green Crab Spider, Oxytate (=Dieta) virens (Thomisidae), native to India and Southeast Asia. Other Oxytate species look similar, but this is apparently the only species found in peninsular Malaysia. As you said, the picture is blurry but the overall appearance, especially those yellow eyes, is quite distinctive. Regards.  Karl

Yeah dont have any camera with me just took using a 2 or 3 megapixel hp thanks for the info but the crab spider that i google out doesnt seem to look like this 1.Yea those 4 long legs in front looks like pincers to me anyway had set it back to a nearby tree i believe that there is where it belongs…

Letter 18 – Probably Giant Crab Spider

 

Subject: Aggressive brown spider
Location: South Central Texas
December 29, 2012 5:08 pm
Hey bugman,
I unknowingly swept up this brown spider in my kitchen. He wasn’t too pleased, and responded by lifting his front legs in aggression when I moved near to take the photo. He’s hairless and about the size of a gold dollar. Is he dangerous? I’m trying to decide if I need to move out of my apartment or not!
Signature: Brittani Wray

Probably Giant Crab Spider

Hi Brittani,
We don’t often trade with gold dollars, but we are guessing that this spider is a pretty good size.  There is not that much detail in your image, but based on the general shape and the relative length of the front two pairs of legs, we believe this is a Giant Crab Spider, perhaps
Olios giganteus which you can find pictured on BugGuide.

Letter 19 – Green Lynx Spider and Crab Spider

 

Subject: Green Lynx Spiders Everywhere!
Location: Palm Beach County, Florida
August 28, 2015 10:43 am
Hello What’s That Bug!
I was exploring Pine Glades Natural Area in northern Palm Beach County, Florida and came across lots of bug and spider life on the grasses and Spanish needles growing along the nature trail. I was able to sweet-talk a beautiful adult green lynx spider into letting me get close with my camera to snap a few pictures. I also came across very tiny spiders sitting on the Spanish needle flowers just waiting to pounce on any small bug that walked by. I believe these tiny spiders are baby green lynx spiders. I included a picture – please let me know if I am correct. It never ceases to amaze me that so much life can be found on one plant! Love your web site – I find myself visiting it frequently to help me identify insects I find while working outdoors in Palm Beach County’s natural areas.
Signature: Ann Mathews

Green Lynx Spider
Green Lynx Spider

Dear Ann,
We have numerous Green Lynx Spiders in our own garden right now in Los Angeles.  We find them on basil flowers, daisies and sunflowers where they await to ambush flying insects.  Your second spider is a species of Crab Spider in the family Tomisidae, probably
Misumenops bellulus, based on this BugGuide image, also from Florida.

Crab Spider
Crab Spider

Thank you so much for the quick response. I will add the crab spider species to the Pine Glades Natural Area animal listing. We tend to overlook the smaller critters at our natural areas – so it is great when I can photograph and identify bugs and spiders not yet in our database. Keep up the wonderful work – What’s That Bug is a fantastic resource!
Ann Mathews
Palm Beach County
Department of Environmental Resources Management

Letter 20 – Goldenrod Crab Spider

 

Subject: spider
Location: vancouver bc
April 3, 2016 7:30 pm
Help ID spider
Signature: spider

Goldenrod Crab Spider
Goldenrod Crab Spider

This is one of the most common color variations of the Goldenrod Crab Spider, Misumena vatia, a species that does not form webs to snare prey.  The Goldenrod Crab Spider or Flower Spider hunts by waiting hidden on blossoms until an insect moves close enough to be captured.  You can find additional information on BugGuide.

Goldenrod Crab Spider
Goldenrod Crab Spider

Letter 21 – Giant Crab Spider from Peru

 

Subject:  Big Spider
Geographic location of the bug:  Peru, Rainforest Lodge around 20km northeast of Iquitos at Amazon river
Date: 01/05/2018
Time: 05:51 AM EDT
I think that spider looks like the Australian Huntsman spiders. Are these also common in south America? Or is it only to me looking similar? This one was maybe 15cm in diameter. Sorry for the blurry picture. That beauty apeared in our very basic rain forest lodge behind our pillows on the wall what we didn’t enjoy too much. A guy from the lodge came and chased the poor thing to a tiny hole in the floor, that didn’t help to much. Guess it scares stupid tourist until today 🙂
How you want your letter signed:  Klaus Reichert

Giant Crab Spider

Dear Klaus,
You are very observant.  This is indeed a Huntsman Spider or Giant Crab Spider in the family Sparassidae, and the Brisbane Insect site has some nice examples from Australia.  There are some species, like
Heteropoda venatoria, that have spread to many locations on the planet thanks to commerce, especially the shipment of bananas.

Authors

  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

22 thoughts on “Spider That Looks Like a Crab: Discover This Unique Species”

  1. Cd, poor spider… I’m from Honduras and I’m an active protector of all wild species in my country, It’s saddening how most people in my country disregard life so easilly. Personally I’ve always wanted to see one of these Giant Crab Spiders but haven’t had any luck in any of our islands.

    Thank you for the picture now I am certain we have these.

    Best regards,

    Medjai

    Reply
  2. Spotted one of these while showering in my home here in Comayagua last night… Nearly scared me to death – it reacted in a fearful manner as well.
    I didn’t snap a picture of it, I have been hunting the internet all day today trying to find out if I was in danger or just overly cautious for nothing.
    Two of my step-children saw it, told me it was a tarantula and ran away. (After my step-son shoved his sister, my youngest step-child, towards the spider to which she reacted with terror and ran as fast as she could.)
    My wife asked me why I didn’t kill it and I _mostly_ jokingly said because it could probably block my attack and get the upper-hand on me…

    I made deliberate, non-aggressive movement to reach my shampoo and body wash and closed the door tightly. I then completed my shower, and very gingerly opened the door to see if the spider was gone before putting my soaps away… I didn’t see it and so of course my arachnaphobic brain kicked in and the hair on my legs started tingling… I poured some extra water on my feet and ran inside.

    Turns out, after researching this thing and finding this page and several other images that matched, my wife realized I am less macho than she thought, haha. Oh well, at least I didn’t kill it and it can continue eating all the bugs around the yard for us. 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks for the very amusing comment. Huntsman Spiders are shy, nocturnal hunters, and they are not considered dangerous to humans.

      Reply
  3. Spotted one of these while showering in my home here in Comayagua last night… Nearly scared me to death – it reacted in a fearful manner as well.
    I didn’t snap a picture of it, I have been hunting the internet all day today trying to find out if I was in danger or just overly cautious for nothing.
    Two of my step-children saw it, told me it was a tarantula and ran away. (After my step-son shoved his sister, my youngest step-child, towards the spider to which she reacted with terror and ran as fast as she could.)
    My wife asked me why I didn’t kill it and I _mostly_ jokingly said because it could probably block my attack and get the upper-hand on me…

    I made deliberate, non-aggressive movement to reach my shampoo and body wash and closed the door tightly. I then completed my shower, and very gingerly opened the door to see if the spider was gone before putting my soaps away… I didn’t see it and so of course my arachnaphobic brain kicked in and the hair on my legs started tingling… I poured some extra water on my feet and ran inside.

    Turns out, after researching this thing and finding this page and several other images that matched, my wife realized I am less macho than she thought, haha. Oh well, at least I didn’t kill it and it can continue eating all the bugs around the yard for us. 🙂

    Reply
  4. I come bearing photographic evidence of a much smaller, definitely same classification, of spider as the one that left me if stunned fear. 🙂

    This guy is ~5-6x smaller than the first one I encountered, which was a major relief. However, the picture is blurry and oddly lit because he decided to visit our indoor bathroom and so I used a laptop for lighting and my DROID MOTO X as a camera.

    I made the assumption of male vs. female based on size difference. (It is extreme in my two sightings.)
    Sadly the large one has not returned. She may have been just as creeped out by me, in the end. – I wanted a picture to show off… 🙁

    http://imgur.com/yYJtTdq — This is a cropped picture. I have nothing for size comparison, but it is about the size of an American Half-Dollar coin from long ago.
    This is indoors. Behind our bathroom door.

    Reply
  5. I come bearing photographic evidence of a much smaller, definitely same classification, of spider as the one that left me if stunned fear. 🙂

    This guy is ~5-6x smaller than the first one I encountered, which was a major relief. However, the picture is blurry and oddly lit because he decided to visit our indoor bathroom and so I used a laptop for lighting and my DROID MOTO X as a camera.

    I made the assumption of male vs. female based on size difference. (It is extreme in my two sightings.)
    Sadly the large one has not returned. She may have been just as creeped out by me, in the end. – I wanted a picture to show off… 🙁

    http://imgur.com/yYJtTdq — This is a cropped picture. I have nothing for size comparison, but it is about the size of an American Half-Dollar coin from long ago.
    This is indoors. Behind our bathroom door.

    Reply
  6. Yet another sighting of the smaller one. 🙂 He is missing a leg now. Not sure if this was the case on the first encounter or not. This time MUCH closer than I would normally be comfortable with.
    Again, outside for a shower. This time it was 0830 here in Comayagua and he was under the bowl we use for scooping water from the “pila”(sp?) (large water basin, with laundry ripple thing).

    I picked it up, not paying any mind to that spot as I was scooping out dead bugs… turn to my left to place the bowl down and their sits ol’ 7 legs… He ran from me and I coaxed him up the wall. He cleaned himself, watched me shower and was gone by the time the soap was rinsed from my hair/face.

    I have pictures but imgur.com is down it appears… Oh well, not close enough to see details anyway. Just bizarre to see it in daylight.

    Reply
  7. Yet another sighting of the smaller one. 🙂 He is missing a leg now. Not sure if this was the case on the first encounter or not. This time MUCH closer than I would normally be comfortable with.
    Again, outside for a shower. This time it was 0830 here in Comayagua and he was under the bowl we use for scooping water from the “pila”(sp?) (large water basin, with laundry ripple thing).

    I picked it up, not paying any mind to that spot as I was scooping out dead bugs… turn to my left to place the bowl down and their sits ol’ 7 legs… He ran from me and I coaxed him up the wall. He cleaned himself, watched me shower and was gone by the time the soap was rinsed from my hair/face.

    I have pictures but imgur.com is down it appears… Oh well, not close enough to see details anyway. Just bizarre to see it in daylight.

    Reply
  8. My husband and are moving into a different house on Nevis. We noticed there are literally hundreds of “holes” in our yard, yes, hundreds. We were then told they are the homes of the “donkey spider” im not in to wiping out a species, but I’m equally not sure if I can actually live with hundreds of these hairy guests. any ideas?

    Reply
    • We hope this does not come off as glib, but if you know that you cannot live with the native wildlife, and you know that the wildlife is present, and you know you do not want to wipe out a species, we don’t understand what makes this new home so desirable. We have been doing some additional research into the Donkey Spider, and we now believe the individual pictured in this posting is not the true Donkey Spider, which is a common name for a Caribbean Tarantula. Tarantulas are not aggressive spiders, and we would urge peaceful cohabitation. The individual in this posting is a Huntsman Spider or Giant Crab Spider and they do not live in holes in the ground.

      Reply
  9. Good afternoon,
    It was only after leasing the property and doing landscaping/cleanup prior to move in did I notice the holes. That being said, it probably wouldn’t have kept me from moving in, I was told by a neighbor that the holes belonged to ‘tarantulas’ and another stated they were donkey spiders. I am a geologist and also have a degree in wild life biology, so I’m used to common names not being accurate. I haven’t seen one of the spiders yet, as we haven’t moved in. I will post a pic when I can photograph one. The property has been empty for a couple of years, with only minimal upkeep. I’m hopeful once the debris is cleared and the dogs and cats are patrolling the outside, the majority of the spiders will find a more quite location.

    Reply
  10. Good afternoon,
    It was only after leasing the property and doing landscaping/cleanup prior to move in did I notice the holes. That being said, it probably wouldn’t have kept me from moving in, I was told by a neighbor that the holes belonged to ‘tarantulas’ and another stated they were donkey spiders. I am a geologist and also have a degree in wild life biology, so I’m used to common names not being accurate. I haven’t seen one of the spiders yet, as we haven’t moved in. I will post a pic when I can photograph one. The property has been empty for a couple of years, with only minimal upkeep. I’m hopeful once the debris is cleared and the dogs and cats are patrolling the outside, the majority of the spiders will find a more quite location.

    Reply
  11. As to the donkey spider comment, they are tarantula’s, but as everything in St. Kitts Nevis has a nickname, so do the tarantula’s. You will find numerous holes that they live in, but I’ve lived here for over 7 years and rarely do I see one. Maybe when it rains torrentially which isn’t happening now. There are also land crabs that will make large holes in the ground. Also, very rarely seen. Now if only I could find a photo of the spiders I have been seeing lately, I would be happy. I am very freaked out by spiders and haven’t seen these huge red spiders that I found in my bathroom and unfortunately my shower one evening. Even if it doesn’t have a nasty bite, I don’t want it in my house! Where would I find more photo’s so I can identify it and find out more about it?

    Reply
    • We have an extensive archive and a pretty decent search engine. We will also attempt to provide you with an answer.

      Reply
    • Check out whip spiders. I lived in St. Kitts in the 80s, and my first night in our new home, I encountered one. Scariest thing I’ve ever seen, but I’ve learned that they are totally harmless. They don’t even bite. But they look like Lucifer himself!!

      Reply
  12. I don’t care what kind of a spider of that it is, and it’s not ugly and not pleasant too look at it and is big enough to eat a new born puppy, My husband and I is from the Quam and used too tell me stories about the Island, before the he pasted away, Glenn,said that he saw very little few spider’s during his lifetime there

    Reply
  13. I lived on Guam and 92. I didn’t see very many spiders except in the jungle. Most of what I saw in or around my place was cute little geckos

    Reply
  14. I captured one running around my house.
    Built it a nice little home while winter passes. She seems to enjoy flys a lot.
    About 3 weeks ago she started to make a sack out of this web like material. 3 days of working and she sealed her self inside the sack. I’m wondering how long she will be in there.
    I’m from gold canyon arizona. About 15-20 minutes from MESA Arizona.

    Reply
    • If she is hibernating, she will likely emerge when the weather is more suitable. If she is guarding eggs, she will probably emerge when the spiderlings are ready to disperse. Either way, we suspect not more than a few months.

      Reply
  15. I captured one running around my house.
    Built it a nice little home while winter passes. She seems to enjoy flys a lot.
    About 3 weeks ago she started to make a sack out of this web like material. 3 days of working and she sealed her self inside the sack. I’m wondering how long she will be in there.
    I’m from gold canyon arizona. About 15-20 minutes from MESA Arizona.

    Reply

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