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By Elizabeth Bailey

You don’t need to be near the beach to see this “crab” – The Catalina Crab Spider, known to science as Misumenops importunes belkini, is endemic to Catalina Island. There are over 2,000 species of crab spiders worldwide – 200 different species occurring in North America. They’re called “Crab Spiders” because they move primarily sideways, similar to crabs. Additionally, they do not spin elaborate webs. Instead, they wait until pollinators and other prey arrive on the plant upon which they’re perched. 

On Catalina, crab spiders change their color depending on the pollen that has rubbed off on their bodies. They alter their color based on their surroundings, which assists in camouflaging them from their prey. After utilizing their atmosphere to find their dinner, they do not spin any silk around their meal. Instead, crab spiders stay with their food until they have drained it dry.

These spiders are difficult to spot. When they reach maturity, crab spiders will be only a half inch in length or approximately 1 centimeter. They can be identified by their powerful front legs, which are typically longer than their back pairs of legs. They have small eyes, which are used as “motion detectors,” instead of clear vision. Look for these crustacean copiers during a hike in the interior!

It’s a Trap!

Issue #38 / All About Catalina's Spiders


Catalina’s Crabby Invertebrate
Jump Around, Jump Around
Fact or Fiction: Black/Yellow Argiope - nocturnal?
Did You Know…Summer naturalists weave web of knowledge

Photo courtesy of the Catalina Island Conservancy

This endemic Catalina Crab Spider perches above this flower’s stamen, or the center of the flower, waiting for an unfortunate pollinator.

Missed recent issues?
Issue #1 / All About Bison

Issue #2 / All About Birds

Issue #3 / All About Plants
Issue #4 / All About Eagles
Issue #5 / All About Ravens & Crows
Issue #6 / All About Natives & Invasives  
Issue #7 / All About Rain
Issue #8 / All About Bison Roundup
Issue #9 / All About Foxes
Issue #10 / All About Weeds
Issue #11 / All About Eagle Hatchlings
Issue #12 / All About Snakes
Issue #13 / All About Diurnal Raptors
Issue #14 / All About Diurnal Raptors II
Issue #15 / All About Giants & Dwarves
Issue #16 / All About Fire Ecology
Issue #17 / All About Mule Deer
Issue #18 / All About Feral Cats
Issue #19 / All About Acorn Woodpeckers
Issue #20 / All About Tachi the Fox
Issue #21 / All About Observing Nature
Issue #22 / All About Bald Eagle Update
Issue #23 / All About Invasive Plants
Issue #24 / All About Poisonous Plants
Issue #25 / All About the Value of Nature
Issue #26 / All About Edible Invasives
Issue #27 / All About Plants in Summer
Issue #28 / All About Marine Ecosystems
Issue #29 / All About Dominant Rocks
Issue #30 / All About Catalina’s Tongva
Issue #31 / All About Wildlife Fast Facts
Issue #32 / All About Wrigley Memorial
Issue #33 / All About Endemic Species
Issue #34 / All About Conservancy Volunteers
Issue #35 / All About Catalina’s Wildflowers

Issue #36 / All About Catalina’s Migratory Birds
Issue #37 / All About Reptiles & Amphibians



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