Crab Spiders and Running Crab Spiders (Running Spiders)




Crab Spider (family Thompisidae)

The Crab Spider is a group of free-roaming spiders that don't build webs. Instead they hides on plants and flowers and waits for an unsuspecting victim to land or stumble into its path before grabbing the prey with their powerful front legs and injecting a lethal dose of fast-acting venom. Their prey includes bees, wasps, flies and butterflies, and many of these can be considerably larger in size than the spider itself.

The Crab Spider pictured above is a Xysticus Sp. This group of Crab Spiders has 17 different species in Europe. This one is believed to be a Common Crab Spider (Xysticus cristatus) although identifying these species is very difficult without a microscope.



Female Common Crab Spider - Xysticus cf cristatus

Common Crab Spider  (Xysticus cristatus)

The Common Crab Spider is found in low vegetation and in leaf litter in a variety of habitats across the UK. Females reach a body-length of around 8mm whilst males are smaller at 5mm. May and June are the peak months for this species although they can be found from March to October. Some specimens have even been found in February and December.




Another Crab Spider form the group Xysticus Sp. (Ground Crab Spiders)








A large Ground Crab Spider (Xysticus Sp.) with prey. Photographed on grassland in SE London, May 2020.








5mm male Crab Spider (Xysticus Sp.) hunting on vegetation in my garden pond in SE London, 26th April 2020






5mm male Crab Spider (Xysticus Sp.) hunting on vegetation in my garden pond in SE London, 26th April 2020








Adult female Misumena vatia

Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia)

These true Crab Spiders are usually found hiding on white, yellow or pink flowers.  This Crab Spider is an excellent ambush predator with the ability to slowly change its body colour to match the flower that it is hiding on. This colour-changing process can take 6-25 days to complete. Changing from yellow to white can be done fairly quickly as the spider just has to secrete the yellow pigment. However changing from white to yellow takes far longer as the yellow pigment must be built up inside the spider.

This species has a wide range across Europe and the USA. In the UK it is common across the southern half of Wales & England especially around London and the south-east. Usually active from May-August but can be seen from April-September.



The male Crab Spider is much smaller than the aggressive and powerful female. Male spiders often risk injury or death during any attempt to mate with the female.








This male waits until the female is pre-occupied with killing a large hoverfly before jumping up and seizing this opportunity to mate. Some Crab Spiders are also known to tie up the female in silk-like web before attempting to mate.







Female Flower Crab Spider morphing from white to yellow.








Female Flower Crab Spider. Still holding on to her lunch in the centre photo.








Female Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) feeding on a smaller spider.








Female Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) waiting to ambush its prey by the side of my garden pond.








Female Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) waiting to ambush its prey by the side of my garden pond.








Female Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) with Solitary Bee








Female Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) waiting to ambush its prey by the side of my garden pond.








Female Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) on rose bush in my garden in SE London, 14th June 2018.








Female Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) on lavender.








Female Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia)








Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) waiting to ambush its prey.








Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) on Buttercup in grassland field in Kent, 20th May 2020.







Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) on Buttercup in grassland field in Kent, 20th May 2020.







Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) on Buttercup in grassland field in Kent, 20th May 2020.







Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) on Buttercup in grassland field in Kent, 20th May 2020.







Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) on Brambles in grassland field in Kent, 20th May 2020.







Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) on Brambles in grassland field in Kent, 20th May 2020.







Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) on Brambles in grassland field in Kent, 20th May 2020.









Turf Running Spider  (Philodromus cespitum 

Turf Running Spider  (Philodromus cespitum 

Technically spiders from the group "Philodromus" are Running Crab Spiders and not true Crab Spiders. They do have similar eye and leg arrangements though.

This image is of a small Crab Spider form the group Philodromus Species. It is extremely difficult to identify exactly what species this is but I have been informed that it is most likely to be Philodromus cespitum, the Turf Running Spider. This Running Spider is common throughout Britain especially in the southern half, and is found in low vegetation. It has an average body-length of around 6mm.

LINK 1    LINK 2


Running Crab Spider  (Philodromus cf albidus)  

Running Crab Spider  (Philodromus cf albidus)  

Philodromus albidus  is another common and widespread small Running Crab Spider from the group Philodromus. This specimen had a body-length of just 4-5mm.

When species cannot be 100% positively identified, it is common practice to add "cf" in the middle of the Latin name to indicate that whilst the name given is highly likely it cannot be guaranteed without microscopic examination.




Running Crab Spider  (Philodromus cf albidus)  helping to keep the flies off my Porsche!








House Crab Spider  (Philodromus dispar)  

Another small and frequently encountered Running Crab Spider in England & Wales with a body length of 4-5mm for both sexes. Found in a variety of habitats especially low vegetation and bushes. They are also found in homes on occasion. The female is variable in colour but usually brown-yellow while mature males have a dark upper body and head and white or light coloured legs and underside and are sometimes referred to as the "Tuxedo Spider".

LINK  1    LINK  2    LINK  3



Male House Crab Spider  (Philodromus dispar) found on my garden fence in SE London, 3rd May 2019.







Male House Crab Spider  (Philodromus dispar) photographed in my garen in SE London 19th April 2020








Wandering Crab Spider Female (Philodromus cf Aureolus) found wandering on my Ivy-covered garden fence, 7th June 2020.

Wandering Crab Spider   (Philodromus Aureolus)
One of six species of Running Crab Spider in the Aureolus group. The Wandering Crab Spider is common and widespread across Britain, especially in the SE of England. They are frequently beaten from low branches of trees and bushes and tend to be found in woodland, gardens or scrub in early to mid-summer. The body-length is variable and males range from 3.5-6.5mm. Females range from 4-8.5mm. These spiders use their camouflage and sudden bursts of rapid speed to catch their prey. There is the possibility that Wandering Crab Spiders may have the ability to slightly change their colour to match their surroundings.


LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3    LINK 4


Female Wandering Crab Spider  (Philodromus cf aureolus) photographed in my garden in SE London 19th April 2020












































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