The Lynx In Our Backyard, Part III — Prosperity

You may enlarge any image in this blog by clicking on it.  Click again for a full screen image.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted about the Lynx Spider that I discovered living on a Prickly Pear Cactus in our backyard.  I’m pleased to report that she’s prospered.  She’s happily taken over one of the cactus’ pads.  It has become her home and lair and she’s done extremely well living there.

It took me a while to establish her identity but I’m now very confident in saying that she’s a female Green Lynx Spider.  She conforms exactly in size (about the size of a quarter in diameter, counting her legs) to a Green Lynx.  Her appearance is identical to spiders depicted in many images of Green Lynxes that I’ve looked at and she does not resemble any other variety of spider.  She’s not as green as some representatives of her kind, but there is a fair amount of color variation among Green Lynxes and she’s not atypical in appearance.

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There are, as it turns out, two species of Green Lynx Spider.  I am not certain which species this one belongs to.

I’ve developed a real affection for her.  She’s always on “her” cactus pad and she poses reliably and cooperatively for me.  She has a face that only another lynx spider could love, but I don’t find it to be ugly or unattractive.

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Her eyes (she has eight of them) are those black dots at the top of her head.  They are small and I doubt whether she has really good vision.  Her fangs hang down below her face, encased in chisel-shaped organs known as “chelicerae.”  To either side of each chelicera is a “pedipalp,” a small armlike organ that she uses much as we use our hands.  I can tell that she’s a female because male pedipalps end in club-like appendages that  play an important role in reproduction, with the male using them to transfer his sperm to the female.

Her heavily spotted legs are typical of Green Lynxes.  Notice the spiky hairs on those legs?  They are actually sense organs that serve as “ears” for the spider.  She has no true ears but she can sense sound vibrations with those hairs.

Green Lynx Spiders do not spin webs.  But, if you’ll look back at the first image you’ll see that our Lynx has distributed silken strands all over her cactus pad.  Why?  One possibility is that they serve as trip wires.  Her feet are touching several of these strands.  If an insect walking across the pad touches a strand she’ll feel the vibration caused by the contact and use that to locate her prey.

She’s a remarkably adept hunter.  Hardly a day goes by when she doesn’t capture something.  Here she is with a milkweed bug.

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And here she is with another insect, one that has mantis-like features but that I haven’t identified.

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I’m hopeful that our Lynx will at some point encounter a male.  It would be a treat to watch her complete her entire life cycle

Images made with a Canon 5DS-R, 180 mm f3.5L Macro Lens assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite, stabilized by monopod, all images shot at M setting,  ISO 160.  The first three images shot at f16 @ 1/160, the fourth at f10 @ 1/160.

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