A Green Crab

A Green Crab spider: Misumessus oblongatus

A Green Crab spider: Misumessus oblongatus

I was looking at some galls on a hickory leaf on my way to the mail box. When I turned over one of the leaves, I saw this tiny little (legspan about 1/4 inch) spider. It is a member of the family of spiders called “Crab Spiders” (Thomisidae). They are called crab spiders because they have long legs that stick out to the side, somewhat like a crab. This one is a female Misumessus oblongus, the Green Crab Spider. Eyes in crab spiders are raised on a white tubercle, as this photograph shows. They have eight eyes, which is the most common number for spiders. Six of the black eyes can be clearly seen in the photograph. The other two are “around the corner’ on the white tubercle and cannot be seen. You can imagine their location by looking at the pattern of the other six that can be seen,.

Crab spiders are ambush hunters. They make no web, but wait for some insect prey item to pass by close enough for them to pounce upon. Crab spiders like this species, have some ability to change colors to match their background and better conceal themselves from prey or predators. This one seems to be trying to match the green background of the hickory leaf. Color changes take quite a bit of time to accomplish, so don’t move one to a differently-colored background and expect to see an instant change.


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