Bark Crab Spider

2015 August 26

Sam spotted this little black fellow on my shirt collar on May 27, 2015.

I say “fellow” because, well, just look at those huge pedipalps.

He’s also clearly a crab spider, with those four long front legs admirably suited for snatching prey.

That jet-black cephalothorax and black-and-white abdomen are distinctive enough that I think he’s one of the Bark Crab Spiders in the genus Bassaniana. These are commonly found on or under tree bark, where they are flat enough to hide in crevices until something pounce-worthy wanders by. Like a lot of crab spiders, this is a sexually dimorphic group of spiders. The females are quite a bit bigger, with fatter abdomens, and colored more of a mottled gray rather than glossy black.

There are three species in this genus in North America, and only two live this far north: Bassaniana utahensis in the west, and Bassaniana versicolor in the east. We live in the overlap area between the two species, and they evidently can breed with each other, so the ones we have locally are as likely to be hybrids as to be one species or the other. Honestly, when you get cases like this where they cross-breed freely in areas where the range overlaps, I’m not all that sure that it is legitimate to even call them separate species. Which I guess makes me a Lumper.

3 Responses
  1. August 26, 2015

    He looks like he’s wearing a pair of those dreadful camo-pants. How gauche.

  2. August 26, 2015

    Not as gauche as being spotted by a bird and eaten!

  3. Katbird permalink
    August 26, 2015

    Yay for spiders!

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