There are a number of spiders that look like crabs. They mostly come from certain spider species, such as Thomisidae, Sparassidae, Philodromidae, Selenopidae, and Gasteracantha.
Continue reading to find out more about the 19 most common spiders that look like crabs in the United States.
1. Goldenrod Crab Spider
Goldenrod crab spider
Scientific name: Misumena vatia.
Common name: goldenrod crab spider, flower (crab) spider.
The goldenrob crab spider uses its camouflage as a primary defense against predators. They have the ability to change their color over a period of days, which helps them blend into their surroundings.
These are ambush spiders that jump on their prey in order to catch them.
They sit in the center of a flower waiting for a pollinating insect to come along.
The male is smaller than the female, they have dark front legs and pale green back legs, and a cream to white abdomen with two red lines that run down the center of their backs.
Females have pale-colored legs and tend to be completely white or yellow in color with no red banding.
They are found throughout North America where they live in forest areas.
2. American Green Crab Spider
American Green Crab Spider
Scientific name: Misumessus oblongus.
Common name: American Green Crab Spider.
The American green crab spider is able to walk forwards, backward, and sideways with long front legs that help it grab its prey, which consists of pollinating insects.
They are usually a bright neon green, which helps them hide among the flower petals.
They have a slender abdomen with a kite or diamond shape on their backs and red bands on their sides, which may or may not be present.
They are ambush predators and will hide on plants and flowers waiting for prey.
They are often observed in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
3. White-banded Crab Spider
Female white-banded crab spider
Scientific name: Misumenoides formosipes.
Common name: white-banded crab spider.
The white-banded crab spider belongs to the Thomisidae family and has a white line running through their eyes.
They wait in flowers for prey to land before pouncing on them, using their strong front legs to seize their prey.
Females are larger than males with the female having a body color that can change from yellow to white, depending on her surroundings.
Males remain a solid color that will not change. The male’s front four legs are darker than the others and their abdomen is a gold color.
They are around throughout the United States.
Females grow to 0.44 inches (11.3mm) in body length with males growing to 0.13 inches (3.2mm) in body length.
4. Northern Crab Spider
Northern crab spider
Scientific name: Mecaphesa asperata.
Common name: Northern crab spider.
Northern crab spiders can be found throughout Northern America and hunt in flowers that are similar in color to themselves.
Their bodies are covered in stiff spines with a white ocular region. The abdomen has red streaks with a brown to red V shape at the posterior half of the abdomen, pointing towards the back. Their legs are yellow.
5. Black-banded Crab Spider
Black-banded crab spider
Scientific name: Synema parvulum.
Common name: Black-banded crab spider.
The black-banded crab spider belongs to the Thomisidae family and has long front legs with shorter back legs.
They are small red to brown colored spiders with around abdomen with a black crescent-shaped marking on the end of their abdomen, making them look as though their rear was dipped into black ink.
These spiders spend their time in flowers ambushing their prey when they come to collect pollen.
6. Tuberculated Crab Spider
Tuberculated crab spider. Image by threelark via inaturalist
Scientific name: Tmarus angulatus.
Common name: tuberculated crab spider.
The tuberculated crab spider is common in North America and is known for ambushing pollinating insects that arrive on flowers to collect pollen.
They hold their four front legs in a crab-like pose and tend to move sideways, rather than forwards.
Their bodies are around half an inch in length with females being larger than the male.
7. Tan Crab Spider
Tan crab spider
Scientific name: Xysticus ferox.
Common name: brown crab spider, tan crab spider.
Tan crab spiders are members of the Thomisidae family and are more common in New Jersey in the United States.
These spiders have the ability to walk in all directions with longer front legs, which they use to grab and hold their prey, which they ambush in flowers.
They are considered harmless to humans.
8. Elegant Crab Spider
Elegant crab spider. Image by Nick Block via inaturalist
Scientific name: Xysticus elegans.
Common name: Elegant crab spider.
Elegant crab spiders are common in the United States and are considered medium size with females growing to around 12mm in body length with males only growing to 5mm in body length.
They have a brown cephalothorax (head area) that has a lighter area, sometimes outlined in white. They have a tan band through their eyes and brown spots outlined in white on their abdomen. Their legs are uniform brown.
It’s uncommon for them to make their ways indoors to hibernate, they prefer woodlands, where there is plenty of ground debris.
9. Swift Crab Spider
Swift crab spider
Scientific name: Mecaphesa celer.
Common name: swift crab spider.
The swift crab spider is a relatively large spider that can be found throughout most of North America.
They are sit-and-wait predators hiding in flowers and plant stalks from passing prey.
Their first two pairs of legs are very long, which are used to capture their prey.
Females can be twice the size of the males and tend to eat their mate after breeding.
Males are darker than the female with red banding on their legs and white abdomens with four brown spots forming a V shape which starts in the middle of their abdomen and moves to the rear.
Females tend to be yellow in color with round abdomens and can vary in yellow coloring. Some have red streaks on the abdomen, others have brown spots and some have white with dull brown streaks.
10. Multicolored Bark Crab Spider
Multicolored bark crab spider
Scientific name: Bassaniana versicolor.
Common name: multicolored bark crab spider.
The multicolored bark crab spider can walk forwards, backward, and sideways with long front legs that help to capture prey. They are black with light brown to ivory patches. They have wide and flat abdomens and blend into their environment.
They roam the trees looking for insects.
They are commonly observed in forests, parks, and woods.
11. Diaea livens
This crab spider belongs to the Thomisidae family and was introduced to the United States from Europe, Iran, and Turkey.
As with other crab spiders they are ambush predators that are able to move around in all directors, rather than simply running forwards.
They are not aggressive and seldom bite.
Their small size enables them to hide, blending into their surroundings, ambushing unsuspecting prey that passes by.
12. Deadly Ground Crab Spider
Deadly ground crab spider. Image by Cloud Dandridge via inaturalist
Scientific name: Xysticus funestus.
Common name: Deadly ground crab spider.
Deadly ground crab spiders are completely harmless to humans, so don’t worry about their names.
These are orange-colored spiders that hunt for small insects on the soil and are common throughout North America.
Their legs are curved in appearance, making them look like crabs. Their abdomen and legs have bumps in dark orange.
Females can grow to 0.4 inches (10mm) in body length with males growing half of that.
The deadly ground crab spider is an orange spider with curved legs, giving it a crab-like appearance.
Its abdomen and legs often have dark orange bumps.
Another characteristic to identify crab spiders is the fact that their second pair of legs is larger than the third and fourth pair.
13. Giant Crab Spider
Giant crab spider
Scientific name: Olios giganteus.
Common name: giant crab spider.
The giant crab spider is also known as the golden huntsman spider and is one of the largest spiders you will come across in North America.
Its body can fit in the palm of your hand, excluding the legs. They are a sandy color on their head and legs with short hairs. Their abdomen is rounded with a narrow stripe running down the center, ending in a point.
These are ambush predators and are lightning-fast, capturing prey quickly.
They prefer desert regions, though they can wander into a home.
They are active mostly during the summer months and are common in the western and southern United States, including Arizona, California, Oregon, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas.
14. Pantropical Huntsman Spider
Scientific name: Heteropoda venatoria.
Common name: Huntsman spider, giant crab spider, cane spider, banana spider.
Huntsman spiders are fast and excellent ambush predators.
They are large and look like giant crabs, where they prefer living in mine shafts, forests, wooden shacks, and woodpiles.
They have eight eyes and can grow to 30cm in leg span with their legs extending forward in a crab-like pose.
They are brown to gray with red on their mouths. Their legs have spines, but their bodies remain furry.
They prefer hiding under bark and rocks.
They will bite to defend themselves, which can cause pain, swelling, and redness.
15. Oblong Running Spider
Oblong running spiders
Scientific name: Tibellus oblongus.
Common name: Oblong running spider.
Oblong running spiders are medium-sized spiders that can be found throughout North America, common and abundant in Minnesota. It is found on herbaceous plants and in grass in a range of habitats.
They have long and slender bodies that are flattened and hairy.
Females can grow to three eighths of an inch in body length with a leg span of one inch, while males are darker and smaller, growing to a quarter of an inch in length.
They have a cylindrical-shaped abdomen that is brown to yellow in color with darker brown markings. They have a broad brown stripe with narrower and fainter lateral stripes and a black spot near the apex of each of the lateral stripes. They have long and slender legs.
16. Metallic Crab Spider
Metallic crabs spider
Scientific name: Philodromus marxi.
Common name: Metallic crabs spider.
Metallic crabs spiders have skinny legs and are exceptionally fast. They can escape predators and catch fast-moving prey with ease.
Their legs are all long and similar in length, which doesn’t make it look as much like a crab as the other crab spiders.
The abdomen is darker brown than the rest of the body with some rose gold coloration. Their carapace and abdomen reflect light like a metal, hence the name.
They are common in tall grass, tree branches, leaves, garden plants, and among leaf litter on the ground.
17. Eurasian Running Crab Spider
Female Eurasian running crab spider
Scientific name: Philodromus dispar.
Common name: Eurasian running crab spider.
The Eurasian running crab spider is common in bushes and on trees.
They are agile hunters with females varying in color and size.
Males are shiny black or dark brown with white edging.
They grow to around 5mm in body length.
They are ambush hunters and do not rely on their web to capture prey.
18. Selenops submaculosus
This flatty spider belongs to the Selenopidae family and is commonly found throughout the United States, Bahamas, Cuba, and the Cayman Islands.
They are secretive spiders that are not commonly observed.
19. Spinybacked Orbweaver
Scientific name: Gasteracantha cancriformis.
Common name: Spinybacked orbweaver.
Spinybacked orbweavers were first named in 1833 with brightly colored females with six spines on their abdomens.
They are referred to as crab spiders due to their shape, though they are not closely related.
Males are smaller than females, they do not have the bright colors or the spines on their abdomens.
They can be found throughout the world in subtropical and tropical climates.
They are completely harmless to humans.