Murder in the midday sun

The current heatwave is becoming tiresome. Gardeners, like farmers, are never happy with the weather. Most plants are now established and holding their own in the fierce sun but it means that it is too hot to do anything meaningful in the garden. The lawn needs its weekly cut but I don’t fancy the job right now, especially as the weather seems just what the horseflies like and they are the worst I have known them. The prospect of using any motorised equipment while I am likely to start flailing around like a dervish to swat, slap and squash these nasty little bloodsuckers is not appealing.

But another little ‘critter’ caught my attention yesterday on a double, perennial sunflower. A dead hoverfly caught my attention and when I inspected carefully I saw that it was being sucked dry by a crab spider (Misumena). I have posted about them before but I had only seen them in white but this one was yellow, matching the flower perfectly. So I went out early this morning and there she was again. Waiting for breakfast. Can you spot it?

Crab spiders are able to change colour, as they moult. Females pick a flower on which to feed and usually stay put, moving away only to defacate. Males are more mobile. The resident female has long front legs with which to grab prey and they don’t wrap them in silk but just suck out the juices. It is thought that the spiders change colour to match the flower to prevent being eaten by birds but it must also help them catch prey. Sadly, they eat bees and hoverflies as well as pest species. It must be a nasty shock to go looking for a drink of nectar and end up with your internal organs liquidised and sucked out!

8 Comments on “Murder in the midday sun”

  1. Mitzy Bricker
    July 21, 2021 at 5:17 pm #

    Interesting! Flies are bad here too!

    Blue Rock Horses Frederick County, Virginia

    • thebikinggardener
      July 22, 2021 at 6:48 am #

      There are problems with every season! At least we are not near water so don’t get too many midges.

  2. Paddy Tobin
    July 21, 2021 at 6:06 pm #

    Oh, the weather is only dangerous! Too much for me and I’ve felt more than weary of a few of the days. Nothing done today at all but I did a bit yesterday. Horseflies are a curse here also – close to the river, I suppose. If only the spiders were more effective!

    • thebikinggardener
      July 22, 2021 at 6:47 am #

      I have tried to find out what horseflies do when they are not hunting me. I am not sure what the larvae feed on either. They are not supposed to come indoors but they wait for me in the polytunnel. Was watering at 5 this morning and they were ready for me. But I was ready for them.

      • Paddy Tobin
        July 22, 2021 at 7:49 am #

        That’s too early to be out and about! Unnatural! LOL

  3. Meriel
    July 22, 2021 at 2:22 am #

    Very interesting. I must look out for them in future. I rescued 2 bumble bees in the past week which were wrapped in spider silk and buzzing continuously (on the patio) which drew my attention. Quite a difficult procedure, holding bee down with a small fork and prizing the very sticky web with a very small skewer! Both bees flew away anyhow and the spiders were without their dinner I’m afraid.

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