Misumena Spider
Eats A White Peacock Butterfly
Misumenops celer
I was out prowling my yard with my (formerly new, now defunct) camera looking for fun picture opportunities when I saw this White Peacock Butterfly apparently sipping nectar from a Climbing Aster Flower. I froze and grabbed a picture from a distance because I didn't have a photo of anything nectaring on that kind of flower, and I didn't want to risk scaring the butterfly away before I got one. Then I moved in for a closer picture:
White Peacock Butterfly
Do you see what's wrong yet? As I clicked a few shots, I noticed a couple of things:

- The butterfly isn't feeding - its proboscis is all curled up.

- There are too many legs, and some are clearly NOT butterfly legs! Look: the lower legs are pointed the wrong way.

- The White Peacock Butterfly should have flown away as I got in really close for the last photographs, but it didn't move. We have lots of clues that something is going on. Let's get a closer look:

White Peacock Butterfly ambushed by a spider
The last time I ran across a similar situation with a butterfly hanging from a flower but acting wrong, an ambush bug was eating it. These legs were absolutely not ambush bug legs! A closer look from the other side revealed a spider, but it was under the flower, so I plucked the branch, butterfly, spider, and all, and brought it to the porch for a little photo shoot where I had a chair and a bit of shade.

The spider kept walking away with the butterfly (strong little sucker!), so I finally gave up and put it in a bug box to finish eating (the butterfly was beyond help.)

Now the spider has let go of the butterfly, but I haven't quite figured out how to take pictures of it without having it leave, or possibly bite me. I'll make page or two on this spider when I figure that out.

White Peacock Butterfly being eaten by a spider
According to Wikipedia, there are 41 species of Misumena spiders. I couldn't be sure because I couldn't find pictures of all the others to compare mine to, and I don't have keys to these spiders. What do you think spider is, besides full of dissolved butterfly?

Update: Thank you Bill Kern for the spider species answer: Misumenops celer.

White Peacock Butterfly held by spider
Misumena spider eats a White Peacock Butterfly
Here are some closer photographs of this Misumenops celer spider.
Misumena spider eats a White Peacock Butterfly
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