20th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest Natural World
Crab Spiders – Masters of Mimicry & Disguise

Orchids’ inflorescences are often inhabited by female spider crabs, like the well-known Misumena vatia females, which use the large inflorescences as perfect grounds to hunt for their prey. Crab spiders are solitary ambush predators, also known as sit-and-wait predators. Ambush strategies often rely on camouflage, which is the ability of the spiders to match their colour with the background. In this case, the white female Misumena vatia, turned its body coloration into white (greenish-white), perfectly blending among the pure white flowers of the sweetly fragrant Gymnadenia conopsea var. albiflora orchid. The colour mimicry strategy employed by the female Misumena vatia was so perfect that even in my visual spectrum (more complex than that of most insects), she remained almost invisible and hard to detect at first sight (Orchids of Romania, by Nora De Angelli & Dan Anghelescu, 2020).

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 07.2022
Date Uploaded: 11.2022
Photo Location: Sinaia, Romania
Camera: NIKON D850
Copyright: © Nora De Angelli