On a walk around the spectacular limestone Calanque de Marseille we came across a bumble bee that was unnaturally still on a flower; on close investigation we saw it was quite dead, held firmly in the jaws of a crab spider. The spider was nearly impossible to detect as she matched the colour of the flower she was inhabiting exactly. Returning home we read up about the habits of said crab spider. Her ability to change colour allows her to hang out in exposed positions on a flower where she ambushes pollinating insects. Her venom is so potent she’s able to prey on insects much bigger than herself and as formidable as queen bumble bees. The prey is not mutilated in any way whilst it’s being consumed and ends up as a dry but perfect husk! The book says reassuringly ‘In spite of the horrifying ease with which they will take prey larger than themselves, they are perfectly harmless to humans.’ Well, thank god for that!

And guess what? Today, at home, we found another crab spider, a different species, with a burnet companion moth as her prey. At first we didn’t notice a tiny male scuttling around behind her. He apparently walks about on her abdomen before copulation and the matings are interspersed with little perambulations too. After forty-five minutes or so of kama-sutraesque love making they separate and the male wanders off leaving the female to finish her gourmet meal in peace (which I expect is quite reassuring as he’d most probably be eyed up as a tasty little aperitif).

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