Spiders That Look Like Crabs

Exploring the World of Spiders that Mimic Crabs

Table of Contents

An Indian Crab Spider
An Indian Crab Spider. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/arian.suresh

Have you ever heard of a spider that looks like a crab? It may sound like something from a fantasy movie, but these fascinating creatures actually exist in the real world! In this article, we’ll dive into the world of crab spiders and explore why they have evolved to look like crabs.


First, let’s meet some of the crab spider species. There’s the Spinybacked Orb Weaver, which is also known as the Crab-like Spiny Orb Weaver due to its crab-like appearance. This spider can be found in North and South America and is known for its bright colors and spiny legs.

Spiny backed orbweaver spider
Spinybacked Orb Weaver. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Markrosenrosen

Then, there’s the Goldenrod Crab Spider, which can be found in the United States and Canada. It has the ability to change its color from yellow to white, depending on the flower it’s hunting on. Finally, we have the Thomisidae family of spiders, which includes many species that resemble crabs, such as the Flower Crab Spider and the Running Crab Spider.

A female goldenrod crab spider hunting a skipper.
A female goldenrod crab spider hunting a skipper. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/ Charles J. Sharp

But why do these spiders look like crabs?

It all comes down to their hunting strategy. By blending in with their surroundings, these spiders are able to ambush their prey. For example, the Flower Crab Spider can hide in a flower and wait for an unsuspecting insect to land, while the Spinybacked Orb Weaver can hide on a plant stem and blend in with the surrounding spines.


Now, let’s take a closer look at the physical characteristics of crab spiders. One of the most notable features is their leg structure. Like crabs, crab spiders have a side-to-side walking motion due to their legs being positioned out to the sides. This allows them to move quickly and efficiently. They also have a flat body shape and a wide stance, which further adds to their crab-like appearance.


Crab spiders also have sharp claws on their front legs, which they use to catch and hold their prey. They have eight eyes, which are positioned on the front of their head and give them a wide field of vision. Unlike most spiders, crab spiders do not build webs to catch their prey. Instead, they rely on their camouflage  and ambush tactics to catch insects.


In addition to their unique appearance and hunting strategy, crab spiders also play an important role in the ecosystem. By preying on insects, they help to control pest populations and maintain a healthy balance in the environment. They are also important food sources for other animals, such as birds and lizards.


In conclusion, crab spiders are truly fascinating creatures that have evolved to look like crabs in order to blend in with their surroundings and ambush their prey. With their spiny legs, wide stance, and sharp claws, these spiders are well-equipped for hunting and are important members of the ecosystem. Next time you’re outside, keep an eye out for these clever spiders that look like crabs – you never know what you might discover!

Flesch Grade Level: 7.9


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Camouflage: The ability of an animal to blend in with its surroundings by changing its appearance, color, or pattern to avoid detection by predators or prey.


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