Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - Nov. 15, 2007)
The dazzling green lynx spider
 
[Image]
Photo by Rick Tremmel
A green lynx spider in ambush position awaits its prey.
“Sweet creature,” said the Spider, “you’re witty and you’re wise; How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes! I have a little looking-glass upon my parlour shelf, If you’ll step in a moment, dear, you shall behold yourself.”

“I thank you, gentle sir,” she said, “for what you’re pleased to say, And bidding you good morning now, I’ll call another day.” – The Spider and The Fly by Mary Howitt, 1821

The cunning, sweet-talking spider in this famous poem by Howitt certainly must have been the green lynx spider – Peucetia viridans (Hentz).

The sight of this marvelous creature is unforgettable. Although the female is a soft brown, the male green lynx spider is bright transparent green.

He radiates color with each menacing posture. Just like the spider in the poem, the lynx spider is named for its quick lynx-like speed and agility. These spiders are aggressive hunters attacking their prey both day and night with the ability to leap 2 cm into the air to seize their next unsuspecting meal.

They are usually found in low bushes, grass and shrubs. The fellow we observed and photographed was perched above us on a white drain pipe near a butterfly bush.

These spiders are considered fast runners, but as with our spider can be observed lying in wait for prey. Although the green lynx spider is said to be aggressive it rarely bites humans.

The green lynx spider is said to be one of the most frequent requests for identification. They can’t be missed. According to the University of Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, “Whitcomb et al. (1966) observed that the female constructs her egg sac 21 to 28 days after mating, which occurs in July and August. The egg sac is light green when first constructed but becomes straw colored with age.

It is a rounded object 1.5 to 2.5 cm in diameter and flattened on one side; the thick outer coating has many small, pointed projections, with a maze of silken threads extending from the egg sac to nearby leaves and stems, investing the whole branch in a silken web where the young can remain until they are ready to fend for themselves. Most egg sacs are constructed in the upper branches of woody shrubs. Green lynx spiders overwinter as early instar spiderlings.

The green lynx spider, for the most part, is considered beneficial in agriculture assisting in controlling pests such as bollworm moths, cotton leafworm moths, and cabbage looper moths. The problem is this spider does not stop there.

They are also responsible for taking honey bees and sphecid and vespid wasps, so the debate continues among scientists as to how beneficial this spider is in the garden and seems to depend on what crops and which pests they are used for.

Nevertheless, this large green spider measuring between 12 to 22 millimeters in length, averaging approximately 16 millimeters, with its yellow legs covered in long, black spines and black spots is simultaneously outstanding, impressive, creepy, handsome and magnificent ... a wonder observed ... back to nature.

Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.

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