Two Lynxes And A Jackal
You may enlarge any image in this blog by clicking on it. Click again for a full screen image.
Last year I was delighted to identify and photograph a Green Lynx Spider living in our back yard. The spider had taken up residence on a Prickly Pear Cactus, where she lived for several weeks before disappearing. She made a good living by preying on the small insects that fed on the Prickly Pear’s flowers when they were in bloom. She found a ready supply of other insects to capture and devour after the blooms faded.
The other day I noticed that the Prickly Pear was again in bloom. “I wonder if . . . . ?” I thought to myself, and checked out the flowers. Sure enough, there was a Green Lynx Spider on one of the blooms. And, to my great pleasure, I found a second Lynx Spider prowling just a few flowers away from the first one.
Green Lynx Spiders (only some of the members of this species are actually green) are superb and efficient predators. They don’t trap their victims in webs. Rather, they lurk in ambush and pursue and capture their victims like wild cats. Hence, their name.
These spiders are fast and agile. A Lynx Spider can run for a very short distance at a blinding speed by spider standards. I’ve watched one seize prey and its movement was so quick, over a distance of perhaps half an inch, that I couldn’t follow it. The spider seemed to be in two places at once.
This first image shows one of the spiders in context. The Prickly Pear flower is about 1 1/2 inch in diameter and the spider (legs included) is just a bit larger than my thumbnail. The Lynx Spider has seized a tiny fly that was feeding on the Prickly Pear’s nectar. Notice how long its legs are in proportion to its body. Those long legs give the spider great leaping and running ability.
Here’s a closer view of the second spider. Its “head” (technically called a “cephalothorax”) is surmounted by eight tiny eyes, arranged in a circle. It is probable that this spider can’t see much more than shadings of light and dark, although its vision may detect movement. The cephalothorax contains the spider’s brain, which is huge for an invertebrate. The spider has no nose and no ears. That doesn’t mean that it is without senses. Do you see those tiny hairs on the spider’s legs? Those are actually sensory organs. They are exquisitely sensitive to vibrations, to changes in air pressure, to temperature changes, and to wind. A spider literally can feel its environment with its legs.
Notice also that there’s a “jackal” in this second image. Look to the right side of the image and you’ll see that a tiny ant is scavenging the corpse of a fly already consumed by the spider.
A Lynx Spider doesn’t weave a web. But, it does have silk organs at the end of its abdomen. It spins a series of long strands of silk that surround the spider as it waits for prey to approach. It keeps its legs in contact with these silken strands. An insect walking through the spider’s immediate neighborhood will likely come into contact with a strand. Instantly, the spider knows that something possibly edible is in its presence. It also knows how big the insect is by the intensity of the vibration that it triggers when it contacts the silk and the spider can also detect precisely where the insect is located.
Lynx Spiders are beneficial. Farmers love them because they consume harmful insects that eat crops. They can bite but their venom is harmless to humans. One neat feature about these spiders is that they can spit venom a distance of at least a couple of inches. Supposedly the venom is rather irritating if you get it in your eyes. I’ve never had the experience, however, and almost certainly never will inasmuch as I wear glasses.
Images made with a Canon 5DS-R, 180mm f3.5L Macro Lens, mounted on tripod and assisted by Canon 600EX-RT speedlite, M setting, ISO 160, f18 @ 1/160.