Wednesday, September 24, 2014

In the Garden: Meet the Green Lynx Spider

 Meet the fair verdant lady, the Green Lynx Spider.  I met this big girl in her favored environment, leafy green shrubs- my white and yellow lantana to be specific.  I was cutting flowers for smudge sticks when a large green leaf fell on my hand. Then I noticed it had 8 legs and was munching on a honey bee!  Step back... that is the greenest spider with the most vicious looking barbed legs I've ever encountered. This was a very large female of the species and quite lovely. I got a couple good shots of her with my camera phone before she dropped her snack and turned around to brandish her long front legs at me.

According to Candice Hawkinson, a Galveston County Master Gardner, this spider is "aptly named for their bright green body color and capability of running very fast, then jumping on its prey like a cat, Peucetia viridans, is North America’s largest lynx spider. These long-legged hunting arachnoids are known by the Spanish name araƱa (spider) verde (green) or the Latin “viridis” meaning green"
 This is a hunting spider that can see up to 4" in the day. She jumps like her namesake the lynx, using her barbed legs to capture insect pray.  Not a web weaver but usually on a drag line.  Also not usually a biter, non-poisonous, but will aggressively protect her egg sack and her young.

"Once the egg sac is attached to the plant, the female either sits right on top of it, with her legs wrapped around it or hangs upside down from the sac. Either way, she guards the egg sac continuously and vigorously, rushing at anything that threatens it. This is common in the spider world. The female Green Lynx Spider shows great parental care, protecting her eggs and later, when the egg sac hatches, guarding her young until the spiderlings can fend for themselves. Each egg sac contains 25 to 600 bright orange eggs, with an average of 200 eggs. The post-embryo remains in the egg sac, requiring 11 to 16 days to hatch. 

"The first instar spiderling is bright orange, has functional eyes, a digestive tract and spines. After about 2 weeks the young spiderlings emerge. (Spiderlings undergo their first molt inside the egg sac). The female spider helps the young to emerge by tearing open the egg sac. Unlike the wolf spiders, in an emergency, Green Lynx Spiderlings can make their own exit holes from the egg sac. They remain near the egg sac for 10 days or more, before dispersing by ballooning. Usually the spiderlings emerge in the fall, catch whatever tiny insects they can capture"
She's a spitter!  "Peucetia viridans is the only spider that can squirt or spit venom, aside from spitting spiders (Scytodidae). Although Green Lynx Spiders aggressively attack its insect prey, they very seldom bite humans"

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