- Author: Michelle Davis
While hand-watering a raised bed a couple of weeks ago, I discovered a large green spider in one of my basil plants. Actually what I found first were dozens of tiny green spiders running around the bed. They appeared to be ballooning on long strands from the top of the plant to the soil, not really webs at all. It took a little searching to find “Mom” who was deftly hidden among the green leaves. She was BIG. I have been gardening in Central and Northern California for 40 years, and I had never seen any spider like this one before. I grabbed my iPad, took a picture and then googled her.
She is likely a green lynx spider. They are common in the southern half of the US from coast to coast, in California and into Mexico. They can be found in xeric gardens on grasses, low shrubby plants, flowers and herbs like my basil. I looked at the IPM site and realized that I had probably seen “Dad” a little earlier in the day. He was a skinny dude and looked just like the picture on the IPM site. Peucetia viridans is the largest spider in Oxyopidae family. These spiders don't spin webs. They just wait for prey to come along, then stalk and pounce on it, hence the name “lynx”.
They can change color over a week or two to other shades of green, brown, pink and reddish-purple. Usually their abdomens are narrow, but the roundness of the one in my garden could be due to pregnancy or recent post-pregnancy. Peucetia viridans typically has a chevron pattern on its back. Another spider closely resembles P. viridans – Peucetia longipalpis. It also resides in the same locale.
Green lynx spiders are considered beneficial in that they eat a variety of insects: moths and larvae that feed on cabbage, corn and cotton. I don't have any of those in my yard and neither do the neighbors. Their favorite food however appears to be honey bees, and I do have those in my pollinator garden. The basil was blooming and attracting bees. She had found a good place to feast and add a new generation.