There's a little corner of my yard that
grows in. I
enjoy leaving it alone as I mow past it, and glancing over to see what
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.
This tiny Cassius Blue
, 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
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:
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:
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:
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
Check out this crab spider
eating a much bigger White Peacock Butterfly.