Running Crab Spider eats Caterpillar

anatus formicinus eating unidentified caterpillar
Location: Toledo, OH
March 21, 2012 11:13 am
Afternoon, Bugman.
Ran in to this guy while chasing snakes (to photograph, not to harm) and didn’t have the heart to lift the wood he was on to follow my snake friend. Pretty sure it is anatus formicinus, but after half an hour of digging around I can not identify my caterpillar. Ah well, it was still a wonderful sight!
Signature: Katy

Running Crab Spider eats Caterpillar

Hi Katy,
We believe you have correctly identified this Running Crab Spider, though we are correcting the spelling of the genus name which is
Thanatus.  There are some photos of Thanatus formicinus on BugGuide that look very similar.  We believe the caterpillar is most likely a Cutworm or Noctuid Caterpillar, or possibly a relative of the Tent Caterpillars, but we haven’t the time this morning to do that research.  This is a thrilling spring Food Chain image.

6 thoughts on “Running Crab Spider eats Caterpillar”

  1. My two cents here would be that Thanatus formicinus is not a wolf spider, and I only point that out because the spider pictured I would say more resembles a wolf spider, in terms of the shape of its head. But I’m no expert, just my observation. Also, I’m curious if the spider actually attempted to eat this or not, since in the picture it appears to be more just feeling it out.

  2. That’s an intimidating genus name, especially for a spider! Wikipedia seems to indicate that it is in in fact a variant spelling of Thanatos, Greek god of death. (For the mythically interested: Hades, lord of the underworld, was his boss.)

    • Makes one wonder why this particular spider genus is associated with the Greek god of death while other spiders are not. Quite curious.

  3. Joshuallen: One could wish you had looked again at your second message before posting. That’s up in Worst Possible Typo range. 😉


Leave a Comment