Green Lynx Spider
Undoubtedly one of our most lovely spiders, the green lynx (Peucetia viridans) is also one of the most abundant. At 3/4 inch in length, this is a medium-sized spider that can often be found on garden plants and flowers. The males are only slightly smaller than the females and are similar in appearance. Lynx spiders are hunters and are named for their quick, cat-like movements, but the green lynx, which is the largest species in our area, tends to be more of an ambush predator, using its camouflage to conceal it from bees, flies, and other nectar seeking insects. The jade coloration varies from creamy tan to bright green, often with red and white markings. The legs may also have slight red coloring mixed in with the tan. While the female pictured above was perched on red pentas, she did not have the more extensive red marks I've often seen on individuals who choose to inhabit this color blossom. While flowers provide the most prey, the camouflage of these spiders is only really apparent when they are on foliage. Sitting motionless on a green leaf, the spiders become nearly invisible.
Towards the end of summer, only the females are still alive. They become quite rotund and then produce a large egg sac. The spider will protect this sac until the babies hatch, and then will continue to guard the spiderlings until they molt after emerging, allowing them to get past their most vulnerable stage. The young are a reddish brown color, but turn green around the same time that they disperse. The adult spider dies with the first frost or from exhaustion. While green lynx spiders usually produce a single egg sac, I saw one this past season that was guarding her young AND had two more egg sacs as well, quite an accomplishment considering the resources that each female invests in her offspring.
(More information on the Green Lynx is available in "larvalbug's garden.")