Praying mantis & giant spider hunting bees on garden sunflower

As readers of this blog may recall, I have a garden where I grow a variety of plants every year. One year I had quite a few sunflowers and ever since I have “volunteer” sunflowers popping up that have all kinds of interesting traits. The neighborhood squirrels collected hundreds of sunflower seeds and buried some as a cache. Some of those survived and sprouted new sunflowers….and so on every year.mantis on sunflower in my garden

I’ve noticed that each of the sunflowers becomes its own microcosm with thousands of bugs.

Predominantly each sunflower is colonized by ants, which farm aphids on them. However, other bugs live there too including some amazing praying mantises that hunt bees once they grow large enough.

You can see one at left from a past year. I thought to myself, “You’re never going to catch a bee”, but that mantis was big and fearless and there were a lot of bees.

This year I’ve been following an interesting, very large yellow-green  spider (anyone know what type it is?) who lives on a sunflower in the garden.

The spider hung out on the flower head too just like the mantises of past years. See below and look at the top of the sunflower. The spider almost looks like a crab. On the opposite side is a ladybug down around “6 o’clock”.

spider sunflower

I wondered if the spider was hunting some insect attracted to the sunflower. Bees like the mantis? It is a very big spider so I was guessing it was eating well on something.

spider catches beeA few days later I took a look again and was impressed to see that the spider had caught a big bee.

What a meal!

I’m still not sure on how the spider did it since it doesn’t seem to be a web spinner. It must have been an ambush attack with maybe a quick loop of silk around the bee and some powerful venom.

2 thoughts on “Praying mantis & giant spider hunting bees on garden sunflower”

  1. Great powers of observation! I’m pretty sure it is a “crab spider” -with more than 3000 variety you’d have to get to know it a bit more personally. (Ya know, like when one gets to know a Smith or Jones? Here’s a white one:

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