Danger Lurks In Paradise
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I’ve posted several images of insects — various species of bees and a leaf-footed bug — feasting on the nectar and juices of globe mallows. For these insects the plants must be a paradise, a source of abundant food at a time of the year when relatively few plants are blooming. But as always is the case, where there are herbivores there will be carnivores. Danger lurks in paradise, and the unwary can become victims.
Here’s a carnivore, a crab spider that I photographed the other day, lurking among the the globe mallow blossoms.
A crab spider is a predator par excellence. Its specialty is ambush. It lies in wait for an unsuspecting insect to wander within reach of of its four front legs. Then, it seizes its prey, quickly injects immobilizing venom, and sucks the bodily fluids of its victim. It is a tiny killer. To give you an example of its size, the globe mallow flower in this image is about an inch (about 3 centimeters) across. The crab spider is about 1/5 of the flower’s width.
Various species of these spiders come in different colors. This one is a pale, whitish green. One would think that this spider could be seen easily by a bee and avoided, given how its pale body contrasts with the vividly colored flower. But, look closely at this image and the next two:
Compare the spider with the bud in the upper left hand corner of the first and second images and the upper right hand corner of the third. See the resemblance? Even the spider’s pale green legs match the color of the stem of the globe mallow.
Sitting perfectly still, the spider looks just like an immature globe mallow bud. And so camouflaged, it can lurk, and it can launch sneak attacks.
Photos taken with a Canon 5Diii, 180 f3.5L Macro Lens, assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite, ISO 125, M setting, f16 @ 1/160.