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Heather Spider - Thomisus onustus
Heather Spider - Thomisus onustus

Heather spider
The heather spider (Thomisus onustus) is a species in the order spiders (Araneae), the suborder Araneomorphae, the superfamily Thomisoidea, the family crab spiders (Thomisidae) and the genus Thomisus. It is widespread throughout the world in temperate to tropical zones, however in the north, it occurs less often and is restricted to warmer areas. In Germany, Thomisus onustus are considered endangered, according to the "Red List".
Crab spider - Thomisus onustus
Crab spider - Thomisus onustus
The body size of adult heather spiders varies. Females reach body lengths of 7 - 9. 8 mm, while males are 2 to 3. 6 mm in length. As is the case with most species of crab spiders, the heather spider has a bizarre body shape with bumps and pits. The colour of the body in the males and females is also different. In some specimens the whole body is one colour. The body colour of the females can range from white to pink or yellow, depending on the colour of the flowers they are visiting. This colour adaptation is possible within a few days, with the colouring is supported (surface dissolution) by dots and stripes. Male Thomisus onustus are frequently dull yellow or have a yellowish tint.
Head of the Thomisus onustus
Head of the Thomisus onustus
On the front section of the body (prosoma), the foremost edge is elongated to both sides. In the males, the prosoma is yellowish-brown to dark brown. In pink females, the prosoma often has a wide, dark grey band at the edgesme. The prosoma is occasionally shiny and has a bright median stripe. The rear section of the body (opisthosoma) is shaped, more or less, like a triangle in both sexes. In the males, the opisthosoma is yellowish green to brownish. The yellow (or white) females bear yellow or pink stripes on their opisthosoma, while the pink coloured females are often spotted with white.
Crab spider Thomisus onustus caught a fly
Crab spider Thomisus onustus caught a fly
The 2 anterior pairs of legs in Thomisus onustus are very long, broad curled in light brown or reddish brown, and are, in resting position, posited at an angle and bent forward. Due to this these spiders resemble crabs with large claws. They are able to walk sideways. In the males, the first pair of legs can be three to five times longer than the last pair. The two rear pairs of legs are uniformly light beige. The pink females, often have dark grey stripes on their legs.
Thomisus onustus is waiting on a flower
Thomisus onustus is waiting on a flower
Crab spiders of the species Thomisus onustus may live for several years. They prefer warm, dry unwooded areas with strong sunlight, including semi-dry, sandy, and sparsely vegetated fallow land.
Front view - Thomisus onustus
Front view - Thomisus onustus
Although Thomisus onustus are a species of Araneomorphae, they do not catch prey in webs but ambush them on the flowers of solitaire growing plants. In Central Europe, these plants include Berteroa incana and heather (Erica). Here, the females are so well camouflaged that their prey run into them unawares. Males and females grab their prey - hover flies, bees, wasps, butterflies or small beetles, often considerably larger than the spider itself - with a snap of their front legs and kill them quickly with a bite in the back of the neck.
Mating is usually in June and the females are passive. After mating, the females build one lenticular, multilayered cocoon in which they deposit their well-camouflaged eggs onto a bedding of silk. . After that, the females guard their cocoons, fasting and ignoring any disturbances. Just before the young crab spiders hatch, the females open the cocoons, thus helping the young with the hatching process. After this, the females die.

Description of images / photos
Photography with Cameras
Nikon D3x, Nikon D300, Canon 50D
Image editing with Photoshop
1. Heather Spider - Thomisus onustus
2. Crab spider - Thomisus onustus
3. Head of the Thomisus onustus
4. Crab spider Thomisus onustus caught a fly
5. Thomisus onustus is waiting on a flower
6. Front view - Thomisus onustus
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