Sunday, October 25, 2009

Deadly Predator

Can you spot the deadly predator?

Bottle Gentian, Gentiana andrewsii

When sorting photos I'm always surprised to notice a detail I hadn't seen in the field. The little spider waits for a bee to land, and it makes me wonder how many Bottle Gentians and other tubular flowers have spiders waiting inside. On a few occasions I have found a tubular flower with a dead bee half in and half out. It doesn't seem like such a tiny spider would have enough venom to bring down a large bee, and that makes me wonder, does a bee ever fly away with a spider latched onto it?


James C. Trager said...

Love those gentians, Justin!

But as to your question, I think it's quite rare for a bee to carry off a biting spider. First, the spider is able to judge the size of its potential prey, and would not generally attack more than it could handle. Also, as anyone who has actually been bitten by a spider can attest, they can produce really formidable venoms. If you ever see one of these spiders grab its prey, it is remarkable how short the struggle is. Further, the crab spider group has particularly strong first two pairs of legs, and the element of surprise. So, I would think the usual bumblebee pollinators of G. andrewsii would be more that that tiny crab spider would be able to handle, or would even want to.

The spider's genus name is Misumenoides, if you want to browse for more.

Justin R. Thomas said...

Great info, James. That article was actually posted by Keith. Though I would like to take credit for the photograph, I'm not that good of a photographer and everyone would see through it. Cheers.

Keith Board said...

As always, Thanks Justin for the kind words that I don't deserve. If you ever want to be amazed and humbled, look at the color slide photos by Lee Casebere of the Indiana DNR. Incredible! He created many of the stunning shots in Mike Homoya's superb book, "Orchids of Indiana."

Keith Board said...

Thanks, James, for the excellent information!