Flower Spiders Crab Spiders Eating Cassius Blue Butterflies & a Pyrausta tyralis moth
There's a little corner of my yard that purple mistflower grows in. I enjoy leaving it alone as I mow past it, and glancing over to see what butterflies are enjoying a sip of nectar. Sometimes, instead of the butterflies having lunch, the butterflies ARE lunch, and it's the crab spiders that are enjoying a meal.
flower crab spider eating a cassius blue butterfly on purple mistflower
flower crab spider eating a cassius blue butterfly on purple mistflower
This tiny Cassius Blue Butterfly, no larger than my thumbnail, was one of many to feast on the plentiful banquet of mistflower, but if you look closely at the bottom of the butterfly, you'll notice that those green things aren't stems from the flower, they're spider legs. The crab spider is eating the butterfly.
A tiny orange and red Pyrausta tyralis moth also fell prey to a crab spider on mistflower, but there's more to the story; look at the moth at the very bottom of the photo:
I pulled the flower to the side, and rotated it into the sunlight so we could get a better view, since I suspected, based on that rolled up leaf, that there might be more than one spider. It looks like a nest and I was hoping for a view of eggs or baby spiders. When I tugged the moth out of the way, I was hoping the spider would hold on long enough for a photo too. The spider, probably more interested in protecting her young, let go and stayed in her nest:
flower crab spider eating a cassius blue butterfly
flower crab spider nest, and eating a Pyrausta tyralis moth, on purple mistflower
flower crab spider nest, and eating a Pyrausta tyralis moth, on purple mistflower
flower crab spider nest on purple mistflower
Not far from the mistflower, another blue was hanging oddly from a plant. I tugged the plant forward to investigate, and sure enough, there was a crab spider:
flower crab spider eating a cassius blue butterfly
Since the spider was holding the butterfly, I took the opportunity to nudge its wings open. It's rare to see the top of a cassius blue butterfly wing; they usually perch with their wings up and closed.
    See how tattered the butterfly looks, and how faded it is? Clearly it has lost a lot of its scales. I'd say it's an elderly butterfly, or was, before it became spider food.
    I gently pinched one wing of the butterfly and tugged it slowly off of the plant, spider still attached, for this picture of the flower crab spider eating the cassius blue butterfly:
flower crab spider eating a cassius blue butterfly
One of the problems with photographing crab spiders is that they keep scooting around to the other side of whatever they're on, including your hand, and then they leap off and vanish. They're extremely fast, and very shy for a preditor who's prey is often so very much larger than they are.

Check out this crab spider eating a much bigger White Peacock Butterfly.

flower crab spider hunting on purple mistflower
Green flower crab spider on a blade of grass (because that's where it landed when it jumped off my hand)
flower crab spider hunting on purple mistflower
flower crab spider eating a Pyrausta tyralis moth
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