Are Green Lynx Spiders Poisonous? Debunking Myths and Revealing Facts

Green lynx spiders are bright, eye-catching creatures commonly found in the southern United States.

Due to their unique appearance, many people wonder if these spiders are poisonous.

While green lynx spiders do possess venom, it is not considered medically significant to humans.

These spiders are primarily carnivorous, preying on insects such as wasps, bees, moths, and flies found in their habitat.

Are Green Lynx Spiders Poisonous
Female Green Lynx Spider

Understanding Green Lynx Spiders

Description

The Green Lynx Spider (Peucetia viridans) is a bright, vivid green arachnid belonging to the family Oxyopidae.

These spiders have a slender, tapering abdomen and long, bristly legs, each ending in three claws

They do not build webs but use their excellent vision and agility to hunt their prey by ambushing or actively pursuing them.

Identification

Green Lynx Spiders can be easily identified by their striking color and physical features. Other identification traits include:

  • Long, bristly legs
  • A flat face with eight eyes
  • Tapering abdomen
  • Bright green color

Scientific Classification

The scientific classification for Peucetia viridans is as follows:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Arachnida
  • Order: Araneae
  • Suborder: Araneomorphae
  • Family: Oxyopidae
  • Genus: Peucetia
  • Species: P. viridans

Green Lynx Spider

Distribution and Habitat

The Green Lynx Spider is commonly found in various habitats, such as:

  • Southern U.S.
  • Mexico
  • Central America
  • West Indies
  • Florida
  • California

They typically inhabit grasslands, scrub, gardens, and other open spaces.

Comparison between Green Lynx and Striped Lynx Spiders

FeatureGreen Lynx SpiderStriped Lynx Spider
Scientific NamePeucetia viridansOxyopes salticus
ColorBright greenStriped, lighter color
FamilyOxyopidaeOxyopidae
SizeLargerSmaller (4-7 mm)
DistributionSouthern U.S., Mexico, Central America, West IndiesMostly in Arkansas cotton fields, North America
Primary HabitatsGrasslands, scrub, edges, gardens, open spacesCotton fields, other open spaces
Identification FeaturesBright green, long bristly legs, tapering abdomen, flat face with eight eyesTwo thin black lines extending from middle eyes and thin black lines on the undersides of legs

By understanding the key identification features and habits of the Green Lynx Spider, one can better appreciate the unique characteristics of this species within the broader context of the Oxyopidae family.

Are Green Lynx Spiders Poisonous or Venomous?

Venom

Green lynx spiders are not considered poisonous, but they are venomous. This means that they produce venom to immobilize and kill their prey.

However, their venom is not particularly harmful to humans, especially when compared to more dangerous spiders, such as the black widow spider.

Bite

The green lynx spider will rarely bite humans unless provoked. However, if they do bite, the effects are usually mild, including:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Itching

Its Effects on Humans

Table: Comparison of venom effects in humans

SpiderVenomousBite Effects
Green LynxYesMild
Black WidowYesSevere

As evident from the table above, a green lynx spider’s bite is not severe compared to other venomous spiders.

The CDC doesn’t list green lynx spiders among the types of venomous spiders that pose potential risks to humans.

So, while the green lynx spider is venomous, it doesn’t pose a significant threat to humans, and the effects of its bite are relatively mild.

Green Lynx Spider

Physical Attributes

Size and Coloration

Green lynx spiders have a bright green coloration, which helps them camouflage effectively in their environment.

They may display red spots and black spines along their legs, as well as white-appressed hairs on their body.

The size of these spiders ranges from:

  • Female: 12-22 millimeters
  • Male: 8-12 millimeters

Male and Female Differences

Differences between male and female green lynx spiders include:

  • Males have longer and thinner legs compared to females.
  • Males have a bright red patch on their chelicerae, while females do not.
 Leg SizeChelicerae
MaleLonger, thinnerRed Patch
FemaleShorter, thickerNo Red Patch

Lifecycle and Reproduction

The lifecycle and reproduction of green lynx spiders involve the following stages:

  1. Females produce egg sacs that contain bright orange eggs.
  2. Spiderlings emerge from the egg sacs as first-instar spiders.
  3. The spiderlings develop through multiple instars to reach adulthood.
  • Egg sacs: Females create one or more egg sacs, which they guard and care for.
  • Spiderlings: Once hatched, the spiderlings are bright in color and stay close to their mother for a short time.

Behavior, Diet, and Ecosystem

Hunting and Feeding

Green lynx spiders are known for their ambush hunting style and diverse diet. They primarily consume:

  • Wasps
  • Bees
  • Moths
  • Flies
  • Bugs

Unlike other spiders, green lynx spiders do not rely on webs to catch their prey. Instead, they use their swift jumps and excellent vision to actively seek out insects on plants1.

Relationship with Predators and Prey

These spiders play a pivotal role in their ecosystem by regulating insect populations.

However, they are not immune to predation themselves. Common predators of green lynx spiders include:

  • Birds
  • Lizards
  • Larger spiders (i.e., jumping spiders)

Being bright green helps them camouflage with leaves and stalks, making them less noticeable to both predators and prey2.

Role in Pest Control

Green lynx spiders are particularly beneficial in agricultural settings. They actively target pests in:

PestCrop
Helicoverpa zeaCorn
Various insectsCotton
Various insectsCabbage

Not only do they protect plants by feeding on harmful insects, but they also help control insect populations without using harsh chemicals or pesticides3.

Impact on Agriculture

Green Lynx Spiders and Crop Pests

Green Lynx Spiders (Peucetia viridans) are predators that can be found in various environments, including grassy and open areas.

They are known to consume a variety of insects, which could impact agriculture. For instance, Green Lynx Spiders are significant predators of cotton pests:

  • Oxyopes salticus, another lynx spider, is a chief predator of corn earworm (Helicoverpa zea) in cotton fields. (source)
  • Peucetia viridans itself is an important predator of insects like the cotton leafworm moth (Alabama argillacea) and the cabbage looper moth (Trichoplusia ni) which can harm cotton crops. (source)

While they may help control these crop pests, they also prey on beneficial insects such as:

  • Honey bees
  • Garden pollinators
  • Predators that control other pests

Beneficial or Harmful for Gardens?

Debates exist about the role of Green Lynx Spiders in gardens, as they provide both pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Helps control crop pests
  • Reduces the need for chemical pesticides

Cons:

  • Consumes beneficial pollinators
  • May contribute to a decrease in honey bee populations

Green Lynx Spiders in Crops and Gardens

 ProsCons
CropsControls crop pests like mothsConsumes helpful pollinators
GardensReduces reliance on chemical pest controlReduces honey bee populations

Overall, agricultural pest management strategies should weigh the advantages and drawbacks of Green Lynx Spiders in different settings before deciding on their role in supporting crop growth and garden health.

Although green lynx spiders possess venom, their bites are generally not harmful to humans.

They play a crucial role in controlling insect populations and serve as beneficial predators in agricultural fields.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the green lynx spider is known for its striking green color, bristly legs, and unique hunting methods, which makes them a fascinating predator of insects, including crop pests.

Their venomous nature may raise questions, but their bite poses minimal threat to humans.

While its role in pest control is valuable, the spider’s consumption of beneficial pollinators prompts a careful consideration of its impact on ecosystems.

Understanding its behavior, benefits, and limitations sheds light on the intricate web of interactions that these spiders weave within the natural world and agriculture.

Footnotes

  1. Green Lynx Spider (Family Oxyopidae) 2 3

  2. Green Lynx Spider, Peucetia viridans (Hentz) 2 3

  3. Green Lynx Spider – Peucetia viridans (Hentz)

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about green lynx spiders. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Green Lynx Spider

green spider
I found this fella on my front porch, Any ideas of the name? Is it dangerous?
Wayne – Canyon Lake Texas

Hi Wayne,
The Green Lynx Spider is our favorite spider and they are not dangerous.

Letter 2 – Green Lynx Spider

I know you are busy, but
What the heck is this thing!
Alan

My Alan,
What a short letter devoid of helpful information. This is a Green Lynx Spider. These spiders do not build a web and ambush their prey by leaping, often from a blossom. They are harmless to humans.

Letter 3 – Green Lynx Spider

Spider on our lavender bush
November 22, 2009
We first noticed this spider on our lavender bush sometime in the spring. It was very green. Now it is brown and is holding what looks to be a ball of yarn, but we think it’s an egg sack.

Is this spider dangerous? We have 3 small children who like to play outside.
A.A.
Southern California

Green Lynx
Green Lynx

Hi A.A.,
This beauty is our favorite spider, a Green Lynx.  It is harmless, though she will act aggressively if her egg sac is threatened.  Your children are perfectly safe.

Letter 4 – Green Lynx Spider

Green, Yellow & Red Speckled Legged Spider
January 16, 2010
I live in Silverado, CA which is a canyon surrounded by the Cleveland national forest. I found this spider on a metal rod on the hillside next to our house. The hillside is covered in tall grass and a mix of sycamores, oaks, cacti, and small shrubs.

I’ve lived in Silverado for almost 12 years and have never seen a spider quite like it. I’d be interested to know any information you might have on it.
Ryan
Silverado Canyon, CA

Green Lynx Spider

Hi Ryan,
Despite the wide range of colors you have described, this spider is simply called the Green Lynx.  It has the ability to blend in with its background plants.  BugGuide has a very nice page on this species, showing several color variations as well as the life cycle.

Letter 5 – Green Lynx Spider

green lynx spider
Location: coastal san diego
February 2, 2011, 1:04 pm
This will be the last time I visit your site. You have sent me two passwords and neither works. Just wanted to tell you that your life span information on the Green Lynx spider is incorrect.

I have watched one continuously and she is now sitting on her second egg sac. She survived the December rains with her first spiderlings and became pregnant again.

Since spiderlings winter over, I have to assume she started life in 2009. You can see the older egg sack in the picture to the left
Signature: meredith french

Green Lynx Spider with Egg Sac

Dear Meredith,
We are sorry to hear that you are having technical difficulties.  Our technical staff is completely separate from our editorial staff. 

All we can say is that if our awesome webmaster cannot correct your problem, there must be a major system incompatibility that is creating the problem. 

Thanks for sending your photo of a Green Lynx Spider protecting her second egg sac.  Green Lynx Spiders may produce multiple broods, but even under ideal conditions, it would be highly unusual for a female to live through a second season.

Letter 6 – Green Lynx Spider

Green Spider
Location: Vail, AZ
April 23, 2012, 5:28 pm
Hi,
I found this one inside a Prickly Pear cactus flower. The extra hair on the legs makes me think it’s a Grateful Dead fan, or perhaps those help with climbing.
Thank you,
Signature: Carl

Green Lynx Spider

Hi Carl,
This distinctive spider is a Green Lynx Spider, a hunting spider that does not snare insects with a web.  Green Lynx Spiders often wait in blossoms for pollinating insects.  The extra legs are the pedipalps and their size indicates this is a male Green Lynx Spider.

Letter 7 – Green Lynx Spider captures bee!!!

Just wanted to share this picture
I took this photo in my backyard a few years ago with my Nikon Coolpix 995. I believe it’s a green lynx spider consuming a male carpenter bee. I really enjoy your site. I’ve been photographing insects in my backyard for a while now and they never cease to amaze me with their beauty. Feel free to use this photo on your site!
Gene

Hi Gene,
Thanks for the awesome image. We received a request from entomologist Julieta Brambila to set up a page of predators and prey. Your photo is an excellent start.

Letter 8 – Green Lynx Spider defends her Eggs

Upset Green Lynx – Super Picture! Fri, Oct 10, 2008 at 10:46 PM
Hi Daniel,
This time I am proud to say I identified this spider with the help of your site and bug guide! This Green Lynx (Peucetia viridans) was protecting her egg sack and was extremely wary of my photographing her.

I have been captivated by her appearance and the fact that this is the first time I have seen this species! I hope you find this photo graph as spectacular as I did and add it to your already fine collection of Green Lynx pics.
Tom
Southeast Georgia

Green Lynx Spider protects her Egg Sac
Green Lynx Spider protects her Egg Sac

Hi Tom,
Wow, what a wonderful image of a Green Lynx Spider being maternal.  We are thrilled to post your image.  The Green Lynx Spider is, after all, our favorite spider.

Letter 9 – Green Lynx Spider defends her Spiderlings

Green Lynx?
Subject: Green Lynx?
Location: Sierra Madre, California
November 2, 2010 4:11 pm
Here’s a momma spider with recently hatched babies. My uncle thinks it’s a Green Lynx spider. You agree?
Signature: John

Green Lynx Spider defends her Spiderlings

Hi John,
You are absolutely correct in your identification of a Green Lynx Spider.  This is our personal favorite spider and we are in awe of the maternal aggression exhibited by the female while she is guarding her egg sac and her newly hatched Spiderlings.

  The Green Lynx Spider is a common spider in Southern California and the adult spiders are often found on blossoms awaiting the arrival of pollinating insects.  It is our observation that male spiders are frequently attracted to lights.

Letter 10 – Green Lynx Spider eats Bee

Green Lynx Spider
August 5, 2009
I think this is a green lynx spider. Its my first time seeing one. I found it on my kid’s sunflower. I am kind of new at this.
Chris Morris
Conroe, Tx

Green Lynx Spider catches small Bee
Green Lynx Spider catches small Bee

Hi Chris,
Thanks for doing the research to identify the Green Lynx Spider in your wonderful photograph.  Green Lynx Spiders are our own favorite spiders despite their habit of waiting on blossoms for pollinating insects like the Bee that has been captured by your individual. 

Once, many years ago, we witnessed a Green Lynx Spider jump a foot from a rose that it was perched upon in an attempt to catch a passing butterfly.  Though the spider missed its mark, it was impressive nonetheless.

Reader Emails

100545

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Green Lynx Spider in Georgia

 

Subject:  Unknown Green Spider Geographic location of the bug:  Georgia, USA Date: 08/30/2022 Time: 11:06 AM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  Found this green spider, I couldn’t find anything like it with google’s search. Sorry if the picture is blurry How you want your letter signed:  Nehemiah S
Female Green Lynx Spider
Dear Nehemiah S, This beauty is a female Green Lynx Spider and by the look of her size, she is about to lay one or more egg sacs which she will fiercely defend with her life.  Green Lynx Spiders might bite if provoked, but they are not dangerous to humans.  The venom of a Green Lynx will only hav e mild local effects on people, including local swelling and tenderness.  

Authors

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  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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3 thoughts on “Are Green Lynx Spiders Poisonous? Debunking Myths and Revealing Facts”

  1. I’m John’s uncle. When he emailed me the photo I thought it was a green lynx spider, but I made sure by checking your archives. In effect, you made the ID before the ID. Very self referential.

    Reply

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