Dateline: October 13, 2014*
It is Green Lynx Spider (Peucetia viridans) season at my place. Every year at this time they set up shop…often you’ll find them hovering and protecting their egg sac for weeks. Momma does tend to the little ones. While technically spiders are not insects as they have 8 legs (they are Arachnids), most of us refer to them as bugs since they hang out in plants and can be creepy crawlies.
In the past I’ve seen the Lynx spiders mostly on the Goldenrods (Solidago spp.) or Carolina Redroot (Lachnanthes caroliana) Occasionally they’ll live and nest in the leaves of the American Beautyberry Shrubs (Callicarpa americana). All of these plants are native here in Florida.
This year I found they are expanding their choice of flora, perhaps it is because they have expanded their taste palate. Tasty morsels in various forms appear all over the garden.
The Green Lynx Spiders are hunting spiders that live on a diet of insects. While it often partakes in pest species such as leaf-footed or stink bugs, it may just as easily grab pollinators, making it a mixed bag of beneficial depending on your view in the wildlife garden.
This week I had a fun encounter in that I saw two Green Lynx Spiders wrestling over a pollinator. I’m guessing a syrphid fly. The spiders were lurking for a few days on the Water Cowbane (Tiedemannia filiformis), an emersed plant at the edge of my pond. The larger of the two spiders had the insect in its grasp. They started a sort of boxing match as the small one headed down the plant taking a swipe at the larger. As they were bobbing and weaving they each swatted at each other while the other flinched.
Water Cowbane, a member of the carrot family, is a Florida Native larval host for the Black Swallowtail Butterfly. I did notice some missing caterpillars, but didn’t actually catch the lynx spiders in the act. Since there were Longjawed Orbweaver Spiders (Tetragnatha spp.) and Arabesque Orbweaver Spiders (Neoscona arabesca) nesting nearby, I’m not going to place the blame unless I see with my own eyes. It could have been any of the lurkers, some with their fancy webs and quick movements.
I didn’t hang around long enough to observe which of the two Lynx won the battle of the bug, but both spiders were there the next day and the formerly-flying insect was gone. Perhaps they decided on a truce and to share dinner.
The Green Lynx Spider uses a silk line, but doesn’t actually construct a web. It captures its prey by pouncing on the unsuspecting victim, likely when the victims are getting drunk from feeding on nectar and not paying attention.
I was a bit dismayed that on one particular day, I saw one Lynx with a pretty little dragonfly in its grasp. Alas, I’ve learned that nature has its ways and we shouldn’t place a higher value on the life of one native species over another.
At any rate, there is plenty of Spider activity throughout the garden. I am patiently waiting for the miracle of birth as there are many egg sacs in the various plants around my place.
Past years has shown that a spider birth is an event not to be missed. If you think that octets might be a handful, just imagine a hundred spiders all vying for sustenance. It is a sight to behold. Of course you’ll probably get a bit itchy at the view.
The Green Lynx Spider is not considered harmful although as with most spiders, it can bite. Of course if you are allergic to arachnids, you should be prudent in interacting with any spider.
With their eyecatching bright green coloring and their willingness to stand their ground while being observed, the green Lynx Spider is a welcome addition to my wildlife garden.
*This tale was originally published by Loret T. Setters on October 13, 2014 at the defunct national blog nativeplantwildlifegarden[dot]com. Click the date to view reader comments.