Green Lynx Spider


Peucetia viridans – Green Lynx Spider

Green Lynx Spider

Green Lynx spiders, like all others in the Family Oxyopidae, are diurnal, that is they hunt during daylight hours. Their hunts are conducted much like those of the jumping spiders (Salticidae); they roam low foliage looking for prey. Their eyesight is not as keen as the jumping spiders, and they more often use the “wait and pounce” hunting tactic most often associated with the (equally well) camouflaged crab spiders, Thomisidae. Oxyopids of North America are characterized by the presence of numerous large, erect spines on the legs and their erratic and sudden movements.

Green Lynx Spider

Lynx Spiders have a very distinct eye arrangement: four on the “face”, two looking sideways, and two on top of the head. P. viridans is the largest lynx in North America. Lynx spiders pose little danger for humans. Although there have been a few cases of human envenomation, the bites do not cause much more than temporary pain and swelling at the site, no more than a honeybee sting. [4]

The green lynxes, like other Oxyopidae, are diurnal hunting spiders which run over low shrubs and herbs with great agility, leaping from place to place with a precision excelled only by jumping spiders. Their keen eyesight is comparable to that of the wolf and fishing spiders. Studies have shown the green lynx spider to prey on many species of insects, with bees & wasps in the Order Hymenoptera being the most common, comprising over 40% of all captures. Diptera (true flies) accounted for fully 15% of all prey. It must be kept in mind, as well, that spiders serve as prey for many other types of organisms, principally birds. [1]
Green Lynx Spider

Little is known about the chemistry of the venom, but it has been discovered that P. viridans, alone among spiders, is capable of spraying its venom up to 20 centimeters (about 3/4 inch). Nothing is known about the defensive effectiveness of this procedure, or whether the spider also uses it offensively.

Lynx spiders are among the major predators occurring in low shrubs and herbaceous vegetation. Few detailed observations have been made on the feeding habits of lynx spiders, but investigations by W.H. Whitcomb et al. (1963) have disclosed that they are important predators of crop-damaging insects. Oxyopes salticus Hentz, another lynx spider and one of the most common spiders in Arkansas cotton fields, has been reported by Whitcomb et al. as the chief predator of the bollworm, Heliothis zea (Boddie). Peucetia viridans is also an important predator of insect pests of cotton fields. In the field, green lynx spiders have been observed feeding on many species of moths of the families Noctuidae, Geometridae, and Pyralidae, including some of the most important crop pests.

Green Lynx Spider

However, their usefulness in the control of insect pests is counteracted by their propensity to prey also upon beneficial insects. These spiders seize large numbers of honey bees, sphecid and vespid wasps. Whitcomb et al. (1963) reported that members of the vespid genus Polistes which, themselves, are important predators on crop pests, are especially favored as prey by lynx spiders. Similarly, several species of Diptera, including syrphid flies (pollinators) and large tachinid flies (beneficial parasites), also are seized. The possible use of lynx spiders in the control of crop pests will depend in a large part on when, where, on what crops, and for the control of what pests they are to be used. Their use in Florida in the control of pests of such crops as soybeans and peanuts may be feasible. Their potential in this regard appears to warrant thorough investigation. [3]

References
  1. Prey Records of the Green Lynx Spider, Peucetia viridans John B. Randall Journal of Arachnology,
  2. Brady AR. 1964. The lynx spiders of North America Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology
  3. H.V. Weems, W.H.Whitcomb, Florida Dept. of Ag and Consumer Services,  Entomology Circular 181.
  4. Thomas Eisner, Maria Eisner, and Melody Siegler, Secret Weapons: Defenses of Insects, Spiders, Scorpions, and Other Many-Legged Creatures (Belknap Press, 2005): p 27.

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