Peucetia viridans (Green Lynx Spider)

About Peucetia viridans

Taxonomic Hierarchy

→ Kingdom: Animalia
→ Phylum: Arthropoda
→ Class: Arachnida
→ Order: Araneae
→ Family: Oxyopidae
→ Genus: Peucetia
→ Species: Peucetia viridans

Common Name (Official / AAS)

Green Lynx Spider

Other Common Names

Green Lynx, Lynx Spider

Author

Author of species name: Nicholas Marcellus Hentz. First year published: 1832, as Sphasus viridans.

Pronunciation

pyoo-SEESH-uh VIH-rih-danz (pyoo-SET-ee-uh is also acceptable)

Meaning

The genus name Peucetia was chosen by the Swedish arachnologist Tamerlan Thorell; it is the mythological proper name of one of the fifty sons of Lycaon, the son of Pelasgus (Cameron 2005). The specific epithet, viridans, is Latin for “green,” describing the coloration of the spider.

Notable Previous Names

Peucetia bibranchiata

Identifying Traits of Peucetia viridans

Size

Body length (excluding legs) of adult female ranges from 11-22 mm; adult males range from 8-15 mm.

Female Primary Colors

Male Primary Colors

Eye diagram of Peucetia viridans

Eyes

Like the majority of spiders, this species has a total of eight eyes. For all members of the family Oxyopidae in North America, the eye arrangement is fairly recognizable and hard to mistake. When viewed from the front, the anterior row (bottom row) consists of two very small eyes in the middle and then two larger anterior lateral eyes (though this seems like two separate rows, those four eyes are considered one row). The posterior eye row (top row) is slightly procurved and all four eyes are of roughly equal size. The exoskeleton between all the eyes is usually red, but is covered by short, white hairs. This draws attention to the somewhat hexagonal shape that the eyes form, which is one reason Green Lynx Spiders are typically easy to identify when using the eyes alone.

Legs

The legs of the Green Lynx Spider are long and relatively thin; longer in adult males than in females. They are covered in conspicuous black spines, and the femurs have many small black dots. In both genders, the legs are usually a translucent green color, with yellowish-orange rings at some of the joints. This species has the ability to change colors based on habitat, so the legs may be translucent reddish-pink in some specimens. The tarsi (tips of legs) have 3 claws each.

Body

The cephalothorax (front body segment) is relatively high in this species, which is especially visible from the front. Viewed from the top, it is pear-shaped and usually a bright green color, sometimes with scattered red or black spots. The abdomen (rear body segment) is relatively long and is rounded in the front and tapered to a point in the back near the spinnerets. The coloration and pattern can vary on the abdomen, often due to habitat or the age (instar) of the spider, but is typically also a bright green color (can be reddish-pink or purple in some individuals). Most specimens also have white and/or red triangle-shapes in a line down the center of the abdomen, which point forward towards the “head” of the spider. The body shape is the same for both genders, however the adult males are much thinner than the females and also have longer legs in relation to their body.

Range of Peucetia viridans

Peucetia viridans can be found in the following states, provinces and territories across the United States and Canada. Our current understanding of each spider's distribution is drawn from numerous scientific publications and online spider submissions, in order to be as accurate as possible. It is important to remember that spiders do not adhere to the territorial lines decided on by humans, therefore these ranges are subject to change.

Important Range Notes

Aside from the southern USA, this species is also found in Central America, the West Indies, and Venezuela.

United States

Canada

Species not seen in Canada.

Additional Information

Habitat

The Green Lynx Spider is usually found in woody shrubs and low bushes or other types of herbaceous vegetation in warm, xeric habitats. It can be very common in agricultural fields, where it may play an important role in the control of pest insects.

Web

This spider does not spin a web for prey capture. Instead, it sits and waits for prey to come nearby and then pounces on it with lightning speed and agility. It may also actively stalk its prey, running and jumping from branch to branch with ease, which is how it earned the nickname “lynx spider.” Though they do not use silk for webs, they do use it for drag lines and for creating their silken egg sacs. The baby spiders (spiderlings) also use silk for ballooning.

Season

This species typically reaches maturity in late spring to mid summer, and that is also when mating takes place.

Food

This species eats any insect or other spider that it is able to catch. In one study conducted in California among dry coastal sagescrub, it was found that various hymenopterans constituted 41% of the Green Lynx Spider’s diet, with the main species being Apis mellifera, commonly known as the “honey bee” (Turner 1979). The rest of the prey in that particular study included predominantly dipterans (flies) and lepidopterans (moths and butterflies), but even other spiders (7%) and beetles (4%) were eaten by the Green Lynx Spider.

Lifecycle

This is an annual species (lives roughly one year). They reach maturity and mate in late spring to mid summer, and egg sacs are produced soon after (21 to 28 days later, according to Whitcomb et al. 1966). Interestingly, Green Lynx Spiders actually mate in mid-air while suspended on a silken tether line. Their courtship and copulation is described in great detail in Whitcomb & Eason 1965 (see references section). The males sometimes break off part of their pedipalp inside the female, creating a plug that prevents other males from mating with her. However, this doesn’t always happen, and it was found that this species can and does mate more than once, and that the resulting offspring have multiple paternity (Ramirez 2009). Most individual females only create one egg sac but, in warmer (more southerly) conditions, they may create 2-3 egg sacs total. Specimens kept in the laboratory have been known to create up to 6 sacs, however there are successively fewer and fewer eggs in each one (Whitcomb et al. 1966). The silken sacs are a light yellow or greenish color to begin with, and darken to gray or brown over time. The egg sac usually has some small spiky projections and is fairly large (~2cm in diameter), comparable to the size of the female who made it. It is firmly anchored to twigs and leaves and the mother spider vigorously guards it, sometimes even physically hugging the sac. If she gets bothered by predators (e.g. ants), she will attack them and then move the sac to a new location. There can be anywhere from 25-600 bright orange eggs in each sac, though the average amount is around 200 (Whitcomb et al. 1966). The eggs hatch within two weeks or less, depending on temperature, but the spiderlings don’t exit the safety of the egg sac until about two weeks later, after they have molted once. The mother Green Lynx Spider uses her jaws to tear open the egg sac to help her young emerge, however, unlike “wolf spiders,” the babies do actually have the ability to free themselves by tearing their own tiny holes in the sac to escape. The spiderlings emerge as tiny, bright orange replicas of their parents, and eventually use a strand of silk to “balloon” away to their future home. They will overwinter as babies and then reach maturity the following spring or summer, and the cycle then repeats.

Remarks

Pictures of Peucetia viridans (Green Lynx Spider)

General

Female Spiders

Male Spiders

Filtering options are grayed out when we do not have pictures for the given perspective. If you are a spider photographer, you can submit pictures of spiders to help fill any voids in our ever expanding library.
  • Peucetia viridans
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • State: Alabama
  • Country: United States
  • Peucetia viridans
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Egg Sacs, Lateral
  • City/Region: Goleta
  • State: California
  • Country: United States
  • Peucetia viridans
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Austin
  • State: Texas
  • Country: United States
  • Peucetia viridans
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • State: South Carolina
  • Country: United States
  • Peucetia viridans
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Greenville County
  • State: South Carolina
  • Country: United States
  • Peucetia viridans
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Eyes
  • City/Region: Ocala National Forest
  • State: Florida
  • Country: United States
  • Peucetia viridans
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal, Gravid
  • Country: United States
  • Peucetia viridans
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Ventral
  • City/Region: Juno Beach
  • State: Florida
  • Country: United States
  • Peucetia viridans
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal, Egg Sacs, Spiderlings
  • City/Region: Pinellas County
  • State: Florida
  • Country: United States

References and Further Reading

Various Research Papers

Scientific Diagrams and Keys for Identification

References for the Casual Reader

Species guide last updated: January 21, 2014

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