The yellow spider is a harmless creature that prefers to live in the wild, primarily in the fields. Therefore, many might never see it at all, especially since this spider is remarkable for its invisibility – it is translucent, and moreover, it is able to change color, mimicking the environment, so it is sometimes very difficult to notice it.
View origin and description
Arachnids arose more than 400 million years ago – from highly organized organisms that still live on our planet, they are one of the oldest. However, there are almost no relic species of spiders, that is, those that would have lived on Earth many millions of years ago and still remain the same.
They change rapidly, and some species are replaced by others that are more adapted to changing conditions – this is one of the secrets of their high survivability. And in those ancient times, it was the arachnids that were the first to get out on land – the rest were already following him.
Video: Yellow spider
Their main distinguishing feature was the web, which spiders have found many uses over time. How they evolved has not yet been studied in detail, including the origin of the yellow spider remains vague. The web of yellow spiders is used only for the cocoon, but this does not mean that they belong to the ancient species – it is believed that these spiders appeared relatively recently.
This species is also known as a flower spider, it is classified as a sidewalker spider. Its scientific description was made by the Swedish naturalist Carl Clerk in 1757, at the same time it received the name in Latin – Misumena vatia.
Interesting fact: The scientific name of the species is rather offensive for the yellow spider – the generic name comes from the Greek misoumenus, that is, “hated”, and the specific from the Latin vatius – “bow-legged”.
Appearance and Features
This spider has a large abdomen – it clearly stands out, we can say that for the most part it consists of this abdomen alone, since its cephalothorax is short and flat, it is several times inferior to the abdomen in size and weight.
Forward legs the yellow spider is long, with which it grabs prey, while the back pair is used as a stop. The middle legs are used only for movement and are less developed than the other two pairs. The eyes are arranged in two rows.
The yellow spider is very sexually dimorphic – the sizes of males and females differ so much that you might even think that they belong to different species. An adult male is very small, usually its length does not exceed 3-4 mm, while the female can be three times larger – from 9 to 11 mm.
They also differ in color – yes, a yellow spider is far from always really yellow! The cephalothorax of the male is dark, and the abdomen is pale, its color usually varies from white to yellow, and it has two distinct dark stripes. Interestingly, the color of the legs is also different: the back pairs are the same color as the abdomen, and the front pairs have dark stripes.
In females, the cephalothorax is red-yellow, and the abdomen is brighter than in males, although most often it is also white or yellow. But there may be other colors – green or pink. It depends on where the spider lives – its coloring mimics the environment so that it stands out less. If the female's abdomen is white, it usually has red spots or stripes.
If you look at these spiders in the sun, you can see that they are translucent – it shines through them. Only the area on the head where the eyes are located is opaque. This feature, along with the ability to color-match their surroundings, also helps them to remain undetected.
Where does the yellow spider live?
You can meet these spiders only in the Northern Hemisphere of our planet, but on a very vast territory: they live in most of North America, in Europe, in Northern and Central Eurasia – they are not only in tropical. In the north, they are distributed up to the borders of the temperate zone.
In Europe, they live everywhere, including on the islands, except for Iceland – probably, these spiders simply were not brought to it. Or the brought specimens failed to breed: it is cold in Iceland and, although the yellow spider successfully lives in other areas with a similar climate, it is more difficult for it to take root in such a climate.
The yellow spider can be found just as often in Asia – the most it prefers a climate between temperate and subtropical, respectively, most of these spiders live in those Asian countries and regions that are inherent in this – so, very often they can be found in Ciscaucasia.
Presumably, yellow spiders were not found in North America before and were brought to it by colonists. However, the climate of this continent suited them perfectly, they bred strongly in just a few centuries, so now they can be found in a vast area from Alaska to the northern states of Mexico.
They prefer to live in open, sunny areas rich in vegetation – mainly in fields and meadows, also found on forest edges. Sometimes you can see yellow spiders in city parks or even in your own garden. They do not like dark or damp places – therefore they are practically not found in forests and along the banks of reservoirs.
What does the yellow spider eat?
The diet of the yellow spider is not very diverse and consists almost entirely of insects.
All of these are pollinators. This is due to the most convenient hunting method for the yellow spider: it waits for prey right on the flower, hiding and merging with the background. Most often they choose goldenrod and yarrow, but others may choose if they are not available.
It is in anticipation of prey that they spend most of their time, without moving, so as not to frighten it away. Even when she sits on a flower, the yellow spider continues to wait until she dives into it and starts sucking nectar, and only after this process has absorbed the attention of the victim, does she attack.
Namely: enough with strong front legs to prevent it from leaving or doing something else, and bites – its poison is very strong, and it paralyzes even a large insect almost instantly, and soon it dies. This method of hunting allows the spider to kill even larger and stronger insects than itself: its two main weapons are the surprise effect and poison.
If the hunt fails, then the same wasp is quite capable of cracking down on the yellow spider, because it is more dexterous, and besides, it can fly: its abdomen will be completely defenseless in front of it. Therefore, the yellow spider has to attack for sure and calculate the moment perfectly – otherwise it will not live long.
When the victim dies, he injects digestive juices into it, turning its tissues into a soft slurry, easy to digest, and eats this slurry. Since the prey may be larger than the spider, it often eats only a part at a time, saving the rest for the future. Devours everything except the chitin shell.
Character and lifestyle features
The yellow spider spends most of its life either quietly sitting in ambush, or resting from hunting – that is, it moves little. When hunting, he does not use cobwebs and does not weave at all. His life passes quietly and calmly, some significant events rarely happen in it.
Even predators almost do not disturb him, because the color itself indicates that the yellow spider is poisonous – it's not even about the color, it can be different, but about the intensity. His daily routine is simple: when the sun comes out, he goes hunting. He waits patiently for hours, because even one victim is enough for him, and most likely for several days.
After he is satisfied, he just rests, basking in the sun – yellow spiders love him. Usually, at the same time, they are not afraid of anything, crawling out to the very top of the plant. This is especially true for females – males are much more shy. When the sun sets, the spider also goes to sleep – for this he goes down and spends the night among the leaves of the plant.
This standard routine is interrupted twice a year: during mating, when males, in search of a mate, can overcome significant – albeit only by their own standards, distances, crawling from flower to flower, and during the onset of cold weather, when yellow spiders hibernate.
Interesting fact: In many ways, this spider is interesting in its ability to change color, adjusting to the background. But it is far from being as fast-acting as that of a chameleon – a yellow spider needs 2-3 weeks to change color, and it can return to its original color faster, in 5-7 days.
Social structure and reproduction
These spiders live exclusively one by one, they try to settle at a distance from each other. If they are nearby, they usually diverge, and sometimes a conflict may arise between them – if one of the spiders is larger (usually this happens when a female and a male meet), then he simply tries to catch and eat the one that is smaller.
The mating season falls on springtime – yellow spiders become more active when the sun begins to warm up harder, that is, in March-April in the subtropics, by early May in the temperate zone. Then the males start looking for females.
They do this very carefully – the female is much larger and can simply eat the male before mating. Therefore, if he notices at least some sign of aggression, he immediately runs away. But if the female calmly lets him in, then she is ready to mate – in this case, the male introduces pedipalps into her genital opening.
After mating is completed, he should also run away as quickly as possible, since he again runs the risk of being eaten – he has fulfilled his function and again turns into nothing more than prey for the female. She spins a cocoon to lay eggs in it and attaches it to leaves or flowers with a web – this is the only way yellow spiders use it.
Laying occurs in June-July, after which another 3-4 passes weeks before the appearance of spiders. All this time, the spider remains nearby and protects the eggs from any encroachment. For the first time, small spiders molt when they are in the egg, and after they appear, they undergo one or two more molts.
When it starts to get colder, they burrow into the foliage bedding and hibernate until the next spring. But even then they will wake up not yet adult spiders – the yellow spider reaches sexual maturity only after the second wintering.
Natural enemies of yellow spiders
They are not hunted by too many predators, mostly those that love eat spiders, with a digestive system adapted to their poison.
- hedgehogs ;
- other spiders.
It is quite easy to catch a yellow spider by surprise, and to do this when he is resting is quite simple, he is unlikely to be able to defend himself against a larger and stronger predator. You just need to find it, because thanks to its color, as well as translucency, it is almost invisible on the plant.
Most often, young spiders die, still inexperienced and less careful, and not so dangerous – after all, those who wish eating a yellow spider should always be aware of its poisonous bite, which can turn the hunter into a victim. On the other hand, he is not very fast and strong, and therefore can be quite easy prey.
Yellow spiders also die during an unsuccessful hunt, because bees or wasps are quite capable of killing him, like many other victims – yellow spiders generally tend to hunt living creatures of a rather large size compared to their own.
Danger threatens them from other spiders, including relatives – cannibalism among them is commonplace. The threat comes from larger spiders as well. Finally, they can die from poison if the land is treated against parasites – but in general they are quite resistant to poisons and may remain among the few survivors.
Population and species status
Although people do not encounter them so often, this should be attributed primarily to their stealth. After all, the species is among the widespread, the population cannot be calculated – within its range, yellow spiders are found in almost every field and meadow, often there are hundreds and thousands of them.
Of course, due to human activity, gradually the number of these fields is decreasing, and some of the living creatures inhabiting them are dying out due to poor ecology, but yellow spiders are certainly not among the species that are threatened by this. Like most other spiders, they are very adaptable and survivable.
As a result, they are among the least threatened species, are not protected, and are unlikely to ever be – too common and tenacious. It is much more likely that over time they will be able to adapt to a hotter climate and expand their range at the expense of the tropics, and that sooner or later they will take root on other continents.
Interesting fact: Enjoy there is little in the bite of a yellow spider, but it is not dangerous for a person, except that it can cause the usual signs of mild poisoning – an allergic reaction, weakness, nausea. After 3-4 hours, everything should pass, and an antihistamine will help stop experiencing these symptoms.
The yellow spider does no harm to a person – it bites only when attacked and, although it is poisonous not so much as to cause harm to human health. They are very small and live mostly in wild places. Using stealth, they lie in wait for their victims on the flowers, which can even be much larger than themselves.