Other Common Names
Red banded crab spider (see San Diego site, below).
Ridge-faced flower spider (see Missouri Dept of Conservation site, below).
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Originally described by Walkenaur in 1837 as Thomisus formosipes
The species name is also often spelled with a c, formocipes.
Many sources consider M. aleatorius (Hentz) to be a synonym. Others consider it a species in its own right.
Explanation of Names
Latin formosus- "beautiful" + pes- "foot or leg"
The identifying characteristic, according to Florida's Fabulous Spiders, is a white ridge on the spider's face below the eyes. Can be either white or yellow. Most sources say this is a response to its surroundings, but I did find one claim that color depended on whether the egg was laid on a yellow or white-flowered plant. See here
for brief description of this theory.
Some closeups of facial images to aid in identification:
All four anterior (front) eyes are about the same size. When viewed from the front, and a little above, it seems all eight eyes are visible and form a crescent shape. The lateral eyes are on tubercles, but the posterior laterals are visible. See
All four anterior (front) eyes are about the same size. When viewed from the front, and a little above, only six eyes are visible. The posterior laterals are facing sideways and are on the ends of a long horizontal transverse ridge across the face. Eric says "Misumena has essentially no black markings (while Misumenoides may have some), which is how you can tell them apart in the field most easily." See
The anterior lateral eyes are a little larger than the anterior median eyes. When viewed from the front, and a little above, only six eyes are visible. The posterior laterals are facing sideways and backwards on tubercles that include the anterior laterals. Mecaphesa is also often (always?) hairy. See
Comments, corrections, and suggestions most welcome. Please add them to discussion thread here
Images by Tom Adams, Troy Bartlett, Derrick Ditchburn, Tony DiTerlizzi, Bill DuPree, Vincent J Hickey, Richard Leung, Paul F Wagner, Paul McNelis, Bill Claff, and Chris Wirth
Its preferred lurking spot is in and around flowers.
An ambush predator. It will attack and eat just about any creature that comes close enough- even some that are larger than it is.
Males have been observed feeding on flower nectar.
Females come in quite a variety of colors:
Mature males are smaller and quite dissimilar to females:
While subadult males are different yet:
Misumena, Mecaphesa and other species of Misumenoides mostly look very similar.
Florida's Fabulous Spiders (1)