hiding in spiky
purple thistle blossom
white crab spider
After the rainstorm the night before, I plow through shoulder-high stands of burr-bearing plants and prickly wild blackberries to a Tall Thistle holding aloft its candelabra of armored buds and lavender flowers. My mission: pull up the sturdy stalk by the roots while the ground is wet. I know butterflies, including Monarchs, seek the nectar hidden in the tasseled blossoms and Goldfinches like to eat the seeds. But if left unchecked, thistles can quickly take over an entire meadow.
I reach down to the bottom of the stalk where there are fewer thorns to prick my bare hands. A sudden movement on the biggest blossom makes me stop and look. A white crab spider as big as my thumbnail scuttles sideways with its hind legs around the bulbous blossom. It's probably waiting to ambush some unsuspecting insect landing on the bloom so it can snag it with its large claw-like front legs. Under my watchful eye, it finally backs into the fluffy pompom. It would be well camouflaged against the green and white receptacle at the base of the blossom but it's not the least bit hidden against the purple flower. Its attempt to hide makes me laugh and I decide to leave this thistle to its tiny predator.