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Okay, am I the last to know . . .

August 7, 2016

. . . that these exist?  What a fascinating creature!

 

 

It's a Misumena vatia - a Goldenrod Crab Spider. It can turn yellow, if it's on a plant where yellow is more advantageous.  www.spiders.us says:

The “Goldenrod crab spider” is one of the most well-known, and studied, species in the world. At least one book, Predator upon a Flower: Life History and Fitness in a Crab Spider by Douglass Morse (2007), contains the entire account of almost anything you could ever want to know about the species. Numerous other research papers have been written on such subjects as their ability to change color, their nesting techniques, their vision, their choice of feeding spots, and many other topics.

It never ceases to amaze me that at 57, I'm still regularly seeing critters I've spent my entire life in the company of and have never noticed. Unfortunately, a lot of these fascinating little buggers feed on pollinators. I took Shannon out to show him this spider, and it had caught and killed a honeybee since I'd been photographing it. The way of the world, I know, but in a year when it feels like numbers are way down, seeing interesting predators has a definite downside. I'm seeing an awful lot of those wretched little bastards, the jagged ambush bug, in all 3 of our prairies (very unimaginatively named the South Prairie, the Old Prairie, and the New Prairie). I mean imagine coming face to face with this little bugger at scale...

 

I set free my 5th Monarch the other day.  Actually got to see her emerge (you can see it on our FaceBook page). She (all females so far) was a pretty girl, as usual.

 

That 3rd caterpillar I found out in front of the studio and brought in didn't make it. It went into its J stage too early, it seemed, and then died in that position. The one I left out on its plant didn't make it, either. We had a nasty storm, and when I went out to check on it, it was trying to climb back up onto its milkweed. I helped it up, and while it didn't look plump and healthy like the ones that I raised from eggs, it was moving around OK. Later in the day, we had a much nastier storm, and when I went out to check on it again, it was gone. I would have been surprised if it had been able to hang in there in such torrential rain and high winds. So all 5 of the ones from the swamp milkweed died for one reason or another. I feel pretty good about the success rate of the ones I took in as eggs, under the circumstances. I still have 3 chrysalises to go, though.  (Don't count your chickens and all that...)

Our partridge pea is drawing bumble bees, so I'm feeling better about their numbers, but still...

 

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