Opportunity makes a thief

Sometimes unexpected things happen when you’re observing spiders. The following series of photos is by Catherine Aitken, who has a wonderful wildlife photography blog: Lardeau Valley Time. She recently witnessed and captured this incredible interaction in her garden, and kindly gave me permission to share her photos here.

Here we see a lovely pink and white flower crab spider (Misumena vatia) peacefully slurping her lunch (an unfortunate hoverfly).


Photo: Catherine Aitken (used with permission).

But soon an uninvited guest (a foraging western yellowjacket) arrives.


Photo: Catherine Aitken (used with permission).

A great struggle ensues.


Photo: Catherine Aitken (used with permission).

The wasp emerges victorious, while the spider retreats.


Photo: Catherine Aitken (used with permission).

Crab spiders are pretty formidable predators, and I’ve seen them feeding on yellowjackets themselves, as in the photo below. So I found this instance of a wasp stealing a crab spider’s prey rather surprising and fascinating. You never know what wonders you might witness when you spend time watching spiders!

Crab with yellowjacket

Xysticus with eastern yellowjacket. Photo: Sean McCann (used with permission).

2 thoughts on “Opportunity makes a thief

  1. Pingback: Spiderday (#18) | Arthropod Ecology

  2. Nice shot of the Xysticus. I only ever saw one hunting in a Goldenrod, and that one was in the tufted mass of a Goldenrod Bunch Gall, not a flower spray. I’ve never seen an M. vatia (or any of its near relatives) eating a Yellowjacket, although I’ve seen a good number of Bumblebee kills, and I’ve been impressed by how many spiders seem to actively avoid these wasps. Argiopes are the only ones I’ve seen who regularly take Yellowjackets, probably because of the nifty silk they use. I’ll have to go looking more closely!

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