What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: can Pholcus phalangioides change its coloration to match its environment?
Location: Jefferson County, Illinois
November 28, 2014 6:35 pm
I am extremely nature friendly and generally let spiders have the run of my house within reason. This year I had a bumper crop of cellar spiders and although I find them interesting, their webs can get to be an issue and I am constantly tidying up after them. Not long ago I noticed a silk-wrapped stilt bug hanging down by the kitchen table and as I bent down to brush it away I noticed something luminous and bright green on it. Upon closer inspection I was fascinated to find that I had discovered both dinner and diner and , most importantly, the diner appeared to be one of “my” cellar spiders that had somehow turned a strange shade of green I’ve never seen before! All of the cellar spiders I have seen here are various shades of tan, brown, or even a light translucent grey, but never this bright green. Even stranger, the spider has been residing among a collection of volleyball trophies on my tabletop and the background color in these trophies is the exact shade of green. Initially I thought well yes, if you are looking at the spider at the right time of day with the right light, the abdomen is likely reflecting the green from the trophies. But the cephalothorax is the expected color, as are the legs, and even in dim light or shadow you can still see the bright green. So I am puzzled and intrigued.
I am aware that many creatures can manipulate their background color but is there anything known about cellar spiders having this ability? If she ( I say she, I can’t see any pedipalps without disturbing the spider) weren’t so fragile I would put her in a different location and watch for changes but I don’t want to harm her.
Anyway I hope I can load the pictures correctly so you can have a look-see.
thank you !
Signature: Wendy T.

Green Cellar Spider or something else???

Green Cellar Spider or something else???

Dear Wendy,
This sure looks like a Cellar Spider, but the green coloration is certainly unusual.  We are going to post your images and attempt to research this more thoroughly before we weigh in with an opinion, and hopefully one of our readers can either provide a definitive identification or comment on the coloration.

Possibly Green Cellar Spider

Possibly Green Cellar Spider

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Jefferson County, Illinois

9 Responses to Can this be a Green Cellar Spider???

  1. We have green cellar spiders in Brazil:
    And I know that this is not our only exemple.

    Also, some produce green eggs, maybe a gravid femele could be green?

  2. We have a lot of them too but none of ours have ever been green. Except for the color everything else looks like one though!

  3. Patricia says:

    I have cellar spiders too (although I’m an arachnaphobe, these spiders are so flimsy and harmless I’m not too fearful of them) and have seen a great many over the last 15 years, but I have never seen a green one. “Mine” are always beige/grey. Amazing.

  4. Pholcolover says:

    I would say it’ s from their last food – the Pholcus I am keeping for certain ID was yellow at first but after a fly’ s eyes it turned reddish and after more meals – brownish, – as their bodies are semitransparent. This one might have had eaten a lacewing or a green bug for example.

  5. W says:

    I came across this page trying to find more about a green spider I just saw. She was very similar to the one in the above photograph. I wondered as well re the type I encountered possibly being color-adaptive, as she was found among several green plant flakes; I saw the spider briefly as she ran due to my accidentally disturbing her for not seeing her resting or lurking among the flakes.

  6. W says:

    Sorry – PS – some difference to the photo, though: she had a very small body and very long legs. I thought she might be a (proper) daddy long legs, but she only had one segment that I could see of her tiny body so presumably she’s a type of cellar spider

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