Gardens can be dangerous places.
First example, a crab spider (family Thomisidae) on a black eyed susan. The bee on this flower is tiny, perhaps a quarter of an inch long, so imagine how small the spider in front of the bee is. In this case the prey (the bee) was way to large for the spider to deal with so it did not attack.
But what happens when the little crab spider grows up? A “normal” size bee is suddenly now just the right size for a meal.
Crab spiders hunt by waiting in ambush. When the right size prey comes around the spider will grab with its front legs while quicking biting and injecting a paralytic venom. They prey quickly stops moving and the spider can then start on its meal.
Of course not all crab spiders match their chosen plant as closely as the previous one.
In this case it’s a crab spider on a joe pye weed. The Misumena vatia spider, the white and yellow ones shown here, are also able to change their color over a number of days allowing a white one to assume a yellow coloration when on a yellow plant. Unfortunately for the one above it won’t be changing to red so it’s camouflage is less than ideal.
Not all ambush predators are spiders however. These next two shots are of the same incident, seen from above and below.
The bee above was captured by an Ambush Bug, part of the Assassin bug group and one of the Phymata genus. Similar to a praying mantis, it has strong front legs that it uses to quickly grab and hold prey. The mottled green and brown colors along with its ability to sit motionless waiting for prey helps give it a chance at a meal.
So, how do you spot a bug having lunch? In the two examples here I actually found them by noticing the bee not moving as opposed to seeing the predator. When bees are swarming all over the flowers and constantly in motion gathering nectar and pollen a bee just sitting there becomes obvious and worthy of a second look.