An Australian species of the arachnid Thomisus spectabilis,
Crab spider, has been found using a cunning tactic on unsuspecting
Crab spiders in other countries rely on camouflage
for ambush, with their body matching the shape and colour of the
flowers on which they lurk. The Australian Thomisus spectabilis
is white to match the daisies, jasmine and lantana flowers on which
they like to live. They also strongly reflect UV light, which makes
it very obvious to the honeybees - the spider's favourite prey -
which see the ultraviolet. Rather then repelling the bees, the
contrast of the spider on the petal attracts them to it.
Marie Herberstein, a researcher from Macquarie University said it
appeared to be a case of a foreigner being easily sucked in by a
local. The local spiders were exploiting the innate preference of the
European bees for flowers with UV patterns on their petals that
guide them to the pollen. Honey bees not having evolved with the
spiders, are completely naive to this predator, said Dr Herberstein.
We expect the native bees are not as foolish, and have evolved a
strategy to overcome the predator.