October 14th, 2009 by BugGuy
This is the second post in a series about odd insects. Our first post was about the cow ant which is actually a wasp.
The crab spider is another odd insect. It’s a spider but has a shell that is shaped like a crab’s shell. The formal name for this insect is Gasteracantha cancriformis but it’s also called the crab spider, jewel spider, smiley face spider, jewel box spider and a variety of other names
This peculiar spider is found in the southern states from California to Florida and they’re also found in South and Central America. Crab spiders are often spotted in the citrus groves.
Gasteracantha cancriformis are actually quite small; the females are 5 to 9 mm in length and 10 to 13 mm in width and the males are even smaller. As you can see from the picture, they can be brightly colored. The crab spider pictured is yellow but the spiders can be any combination of red, yellow, black and white. Crab spiders are often seen in their webs which usually have little puffs of silk (you can see one above the spider in the photo). The purpose of the tufts is not known but the book Florida’s Fabulous Spiders By Sam Marshall, G. B. Edwards says the tufts of silk serve as a warning sign to birds and other creatures to avoid accidentally destroying the web.
Crab spiders can bite but they’re not poisonous and you typically wont find them in the house.
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