Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ambush in the Garden!

Our gardens are often an ideal place to enjoy nature, in fact many design their gardens to attract wildlife. Birds and butterflies are easily attracted by simply providing food sources. These areas are often small, but no area is too small to observe creatures carrying out their niche. As I was photographing butterflies in my yard a few days ago, I spotted a Green Lynx Spider (Peucetia viridans) with a recently caught Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus) in its grasp. This is a very interesting species and widespread in the southern United States. It does not catch prey using a web, but will wait motionless(usually near flowers) for an unsuspecting insect victim. The green color allows it to camouflage into its surroundings. Spiders of the family Oxyopidae are referred to as "lynx spiders" due to their habit of pouncing on prey, reminiscent of a cat. They are master ambush hunters and are often noted for playing a positive role in crop pest control, though they also prey upon beneficial insects.

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