We all know to be afraid at the sight of a black spider, especially when it has a distinctive red hourglass shape – that means a black widow, and venomous. We’re also wary of the brown recluse – another one of the most dangerous spiders in the country – both of which can be found in Arizona.
But there’s also something quite unsettling about seeing a white spider too. Pale, and for some people, even somewhat alien-looking spiders since we’re used to seeing more of the brown variety.
There is no one white spider, and what white spiders you see would be from a number of different species of spiders.
In this blog entry, we’ll be talking about some of the white spiders you’ll find in the state of Arizona.
Crab spiders, or specifically Misumenops deserti (since the common name crab spider is shared by a number of species of spiders), have an off-white or pale yellow color with light-brown markings on their abdomen. Adult males mature to be a more tan color, with more pronounced dark-brown markings on their abdomen and legs.
These spiders don’t spin webs, and instead wait for prey on foliage. Once a prey comes along, it uses its first and second pair of legs – which are rotated forward – to capture and hold it. While they deliver venom to paralyze their foe, their bites are rarely dangerous to humans (not to be confused by bites from Giant crab spiders, which can be quite painful).
While these spiders don’t spin webs, they do spin silk for their eggs sacs and for transportation, spinning a thread of silk and letting it glide into the breeze. Once it latches on to something like a neighboring plant, the spider then uses it as a bridge to cross.
Similar to crabs, these spiders crawl sideways.
Other spiders in the Thomisidae family of spiders are also referred to as crab spiders (like the Goldenrod Crab Spider that we’ll be discussing next), while other species of spiders can have varying names of crab spider, such as wall crab spiders, or six-eyed crab spiders, etc.
Goldenrod Crab Spider
The Goldenrod Crab Spider, Misumena vatia, is the largest and best known flower spider in North America – called as such because they like to wait for prey on foliage, particularly on flowers. These spiders in particular are often found on goldenrod plants, though they may also hunt on other flowers like daises and sunflowers.
They are white or yellow, depending on the flower where they’re on. White variants of these spiders may have two distinct red marks on the sides of their abdomen, while yellow variants of these spiders will have two distinct light-brown or slightly orange marks on the sides of their abdomen. However, they employ active camouflage and are able to alter their color to blend in their surroundings (this change will take a few days).
Some flower crab spiders may even imitate flowers, waiting for unsuspecting prey to fall victim to its trickery.
Other White Spiders in Arizona
Some of the other white spiders you may spot in Arizona may be the Marbled Cellar Spider and Coneweb Spider, but many of these spiders may also have much darker colors and patterns.
Yellow Sac spiders may also be confused by some people as being a white spider, since they are typically pale in color. Check out our dedicated blog entry for them here.