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8 Interesting Spiders That Look Like Crabs

It should be no surprise that there are lots of spiders that look like crabs- they’re both arthropods, which means they’re actually related. They’re both invertebrates with exoskeletons and lots of legs, and so there are bound to be some similarities. Here’s a short list of some of the spiders that look like crabs.


8 Spiders That Look Like Crabs

1. Spinybacked Orb Weaver

Spinybacked orbweaver on a cobweb
Spinybacked orbweaver on a cobweb | image by Joe Lapp via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Gasteracantha cancriformis

The spinybacked orb weaver is one of the most crab-like spiders you’ll see. Its abdomen is wider than it is long, and there’s no easily distinguishable thorax, making it seem as though the body is all one piece rather than two distinct segments.

They’re brightly colored and have six spines jutting out from the edge of their abdomen. Spinybacked orb weavers are very small, the biggest being less about a third of an inch across, and they’re completely harmless to humans. They’re native to most of North and South America and the Caribbean, and have been widely introduced elsewhere.

2. Goldenrod Crab Spider

Goldenrod crab spider
Goldenrod crab spider | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Misumena vatia

This species doesn’t spin webs, preferring to hide in flowers and ambush insects that come to feed on the nectar. They’re color is meant to provide camouflage in the flowers, and they can actually change their color over several days to blend in with different species of flower.

They have wide abdomens and forward-curving legs which give them a distinct crab-like appearance. They’re a small species and so it would easy to mistake one for a crab if you didn’t look closely, although you’d probably wonder how a crab got into your flower bed.

3. American Green Crab Spider

American green crab spider on a leaf
American green crab spider on a leaf | image by Ryan Hodnett via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Scientific name: Misumessus oblongus

A neon green spider that hides in flowers to ambush its prey, the American green crab spider is an expert predator . They’re more slender than the goldenrod crab spider, and are native to the US east of the Mississippi from Pennsylvania south to Georgia.

One of the things that makes them so crab-like is their ability to walk sideways, something most spiders are incapable of. Seeing one of these small spiders scuttle off to the side is uncanny, and it can definitely make you second-guess whether or not you’re really looking at a spider.

4. White-banded Crab Spider

White-banded crab spider
White-banded crab spider | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Misumenoides formosipes

Able to change their color to white, brown, or yellow, the females of this species can blend in with many different flower species. They use their strong, forward-curving front legs to catch their prey before it can fly away. While the females eat insects like most spiders, the males have actually been documented eating the nectar of the flowers they hide in.

Their front four legs are much longer and stronger than the four rear legs, which in a way resembles a crabs claws and long front legs, and smaller rear legs and fins. Females, with their wide abdomens, can look especially crab-like when their lying in a bush with their legs drawn in close to the body.

5. Northern Crab Spider

Northern crab spider on a leaf
Northern crab spider on a leaf | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Mecaphesa asperata

This species has a mottled red and brown body and is unable to change color, so it is more limited in what species of flower it can use as an ambush spot. It’s one of the only crab spiders whose body is covered in spines, most of this family are fairly smooth.

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They live throughout North America and, like other crab spiders, they’re front four legs are extra long and curve forward, to help them catch their prey.

6. Elegant Crab Spider

Elegant crab spider on rocks
Elegant crab spider on rocks | image by Nick Block via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 4.0

Scientific name: Xysticus elegans

Favoring cooler northern climates but common in most of North America, the elegant crab spider is a dark brown color and is often found on trees and in the leaf litter on the forest floor. While it doesn’t make as much use of flowers as other crab spiders, it still has the distinctive long, forward-curving legs that make them appear so similar to crabs.

These legs are how it traps the insects that it ambushes, and it may also use them in threat displays when it’s cornered, holding them up in the air to make itself appear larger and more dangerous than it really is.

7. Golden Huntsman Spider

Golden huntsman spider
Golden huntsman spider | image by Andrey Zharkikh via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Olios giganteus

One of the largest spiders in North America, this species is a speedy, ground dwelling predator that can grow to over three inches across. Its long legs give it remarkable speed, even over uneven ground, and they curver forward a bit while also sticking out horizontally from the body (rather than angling up as most spider legs do), much like a crab’s leg.

They’re common in the southern and western states, and are most active in the summer months when their prey is abundant and easy to find. They prefer dry desert environments, although on rare occasions they may enter someone’s home.

8. Pantropical Huntsman Spider

Pantropical huntsman spider on ceiling
Pantropical huntsman spider on ceiling | image by Manan Singh Mahadev via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Heteropoda venatoria

Few spiders look more like giant crabs than this big, fast, long-legged huntsman. The legs stick horizontally out from the body with almost no vertical rize and curve forward slightly, further enhancing the appearance of a large crab.

This spider uses its legs to chase down insects, but it’s also been documented hunting scorpions and even bats.