Thursday, December 24, 2009

Experiment in Spider Rearing

Well, my friend found a crab spider in her car, and I had been considering taking on a spider as a pet, so I decided this one would be as good as any. Plus, it being a crab spider, it does not spin webs and instead sits on flowers waiting for a passing insect, so it's a lot less messy. I have it set up on a stalk of rosemary, and it has already captured its first meal - it seemed quite happy about it. The first name that came to mind was Percival (Percy for short) - I have no clue why, but that name has stuck.

Araneae; Araneomorphae; Entelegynes; Thomisidae; Misumena vatia (female)
Common Name: Goldenrod Flower Spider

As for its actual name, it is a crab spider (family Thomisidae) of the genus Misumena based on the bugguide explanation.

Misumena is distinguished from Misumenoides and Misumenops (two other common flower crab spiders) by having eight readily visible eyes, all approximately the same size, and the lateral eyes situated on tubercles. I just checked under the scope, and Percy was good and sat there looking straight up at the lens, so I got a good look.

often has a prominent ridge separating the rows of eyes into four posterior and four anterior, but most characteristic is the "mustache" or lateral tubercle/prominance just above the chelicerae (the pair of appendages to which the fangs are attached).

has the lateral pair on tubercles like Misumena, but the posterior lateral eyes are slightly larger than the medial pair.

Crab spiders are capable of changing their color to match their surroundings, and include morphs such as white, greenish, yellow, with varying degrees of brown and black. I wonder if Percy will change colors now that it is on purple rosemary flowers, and green leaves rather than the whitish interior of a Prius. I would love to find a green lynx spider, I think they are simply gorgeous, but alas I doubt I will find one again soon. I spotted one once in San Diego - with any luck I'll run into one again and be able to keep it as a pet for a bit. Today marks the first day of taking care of Percy - we shall see how long it lives.

*Edit: It appears that Percy is a FEMALE Goldenrod Crab Spider, so I am going to change the name from Percy to Persephone. Special thanks to a bugguide user for identification. Seems like there is a good chance she'll change color. My field guide with pictures (the same one that initially misled me on the caddisfly) suggested that it was a Goldenrod Crab Spider, but I was not feeling very confident in the guide, and did not want to base my ID on a general picture alone.*

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