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Spiders that Change Colors (Explained & Examples)

Spiders that change colors are found in the old world family of arachnids called Thomisidae. There are about 500 species of spiders that change colors, and over 100 just in the genus Nephila.

Spiders that change colors

The most well-known color-changing spider is the white-banded crab spider, which can change its color to match its environment, but there are over 500 species of color changing spiders covering every continent except Antarctica.

Let’s take a look at some color-changing spiders and explore the science behind their color-changing abilities.

Do Spiders Change Colors?

Yes, some spiders can change colors to avoid being seen by predators by matching the color of their environment. An example of a color-changing spider is the white-banded crab spider, which can change color to match the various vegetation and flower species found in its habitat.

The most well-known spider that has the ability to change colors is the white-banded crab spider. This spider will change its color to match the environment. This is a spider that lives on flowers and vegetation, so it will adapt its coloring to match the surroundings.

It may seem like this type of spider has camouflage, but it’s actually an adaptation to hide from predators.

The white-banded crab spider has eyes with a ridge in the middle of them that makes them look like 3 dots; these horizontal lines can be seen when you hold a light up to their eyes. They also have translucent bodies that allow their bodies and legs to blend in with their surroundings.

Here she is blending in with the yellow flowers around her:

These spiders will also use their ability to change colors to hunt down their prey. The females will look for insects on fruit or flowers. They will choose a flower where many insects are located, climb the plant to get to the flowers and wait for an insect to land on its web.

Read More: Do Spiders Eat Fruit?

The unsuspecting insects will come to the flower to pollinate it, only for the crab spider to ambush the insect. Because the spider is virtually invisible to the insect, the hunt will often be successful because the prey will have little to no time to react to the attack of the white-banded crab spider.

How Do Spiders Change Colors?

Color-changing spiders like the crab spider change their color by varying the production of various natural pigments in their bodies, in a process that lasts for up to 14 days. Some spiders change their colors to match their surroundings, and some change their colors to make them stand out more.

These spiders will shift from flower to flower to find opportunities to hunt and to hide from predators. They might spend several days on only one type of flower, which will allow them to change colors effectively and become more dangerous for their prey because they will blend in with the surroundings.

This type of spider also changes colors to protect itself against predators instead of using camouflage to hide from them. Spiders often rely on camouflage, but since there are no flowers in an area where the white-banded crab spider is found, it has used its ability to change colors as a way of survival. 

Read More: Amazing Lizards that Eat Spiders

Sometimes, the crab spider will also use its camo skills to blend in with its surroundings that are not flowers. If there are not many flowers around, the white-banded crab spider will use other parts of the habitat to change the colors.

This color-changing technique is very effective for allowing the spider to stay safe from its predators, and to be more effective while hunting. This camouflaging technique takes some time for it to work and get into action, but once it does, it will make the white-banded spider hard to track.

Why Do Spiders Change Color?

Spiders change color because they need to blend in with their environment. These spiders have evolved to use their color-changing abilities to hunt prey and avoid predators.

Spiders that change colors live on every continent except Antarctica, although some spiders do thrive in the cold. Color-changing spiders exist in jungles, grasslands, swamps, and deserts because they prey on other animals like insects and frogs (sometimes also birds). 

However, spiders that change colors based on their surroundings are rare. One of them is the white-banded crab spider, which will change its color based on the area it finds itself in. They will use camouflage to stalk their prey and hunt it down, which makes it deceptive and hard to spot.

Sometimes, when they are hunting prey that is larger or brighter than themselves, the white-banded crab spider will exhibit bright colors because it doesn’t see its prey very well. When it can’t see its prey well enough to catch it, the spider will let out bright colors so that predators will think it is a much more dangerous animal.

It is also common for spiders to change color when there is something poisonous near them. This is a way of protecting themselves against predators, who have evolved not to eat the poison plants or berries and will avoid the spider, since it looks similar.

Sometimes, the white-banded crab spider will also change color when they are on some sort of vegetation that they can use to blend into their surroundings better. For example, there is a species of spider called the yellow sac spider that will change its colors to blend with grasses. 

Spiders will use these camouflaging abilities to easily survive in their habitat. They have many natural predators, some of which are much larger and more effective hunters, so they need to use every trick they can to survive.

The camouflaging might sometimes not work against predators that use other ways than their sight to hunt, which renders the technique ineffective.

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Conclusion

White-banded spiders are spiders that change color to blend in with their surroundings. They use camouflage to hide from predators, by matching the color of their background environment.

Females of the white-banded spider will be found around flowers and vegetation, which is where they will hunt for prey. When the female finds an insect on her flower to eat, she will use her camouflage abilities to blend into her surroundings.

Spiders’ ability to blend in with or contrast with their surroundings at different times is very effective against predators and prey alike.

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