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August 2009 cover image Franklin Mountains

Wild Thing: Green Lynx

These striking spiders are stealthy hunters and protective moms.

By Sheryl Smith-Rogers

Among our Texas spiders, the green lynx (Peucetia viridans) ranks as one of the most beautiful. Even spider-phobes might admit that this neon-lime arachnid — despite its spindly, black-bristled legs — merits a second glance.

That is, if they can spot them. Fast runners and expert jumpers, green lynxes — no bigger than a quarter — lurk in foliage, where they blend in and stalk bees, moths, caterpillars and other insects. Like jumping spiders (and cats, hence their name), lynx spiders rely on keen eyesight and stealthy hunting skills — not a web — to catch prey. They also throw out a dragline from their abdomen’s spinnerets (silk-producing organ) in case they need to make a quick getaway.

Common across the state, green lynx spiders mature by July. After mating in early fall, the female constructs a messy, straw-colored sac within a plant’s topmost leaves or stems. She secures it with a hodgepodge of silken threads and deposits hundreds of eggs within the cottony mass. Then her vigil begins.

Upside-down, the lynx mother hugs the egg sac with her long legs. A fierce protector, she’ll even spit venom from her fangs if threatened. After the orange spiderlings emerge, she remains near the sac, guarding her brood.

Four or so weeks later, the tiny lynxes — who are now bright green like their mother — disperse and find a place to overwinter. She soon dies. But come summer, her surviving offspring will repeat the cycle in gardens and landscapes across the state.

 

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