In late August, I happened to be in the front flower bed snipping fresh basil for a batch of my roasted tomato sauce, when I noticed a Green Lynx spider perched on a basil plant that had gone to seed. For years, I saw these spiky, green spiders all around the house but never did more than identify them and research enough to know they were a beneficial spider to gardeners and they were not to be feared – meaning their bite was not toxic and they were not particularly aggressive.
After discovering its presence, it became a habit to check on this spider any time I was clipping basil, or while I was standing around waiting on my three Japanese Chin dogs to do their business in the mornings. After a couple of weeks, I realized my green friend was a female, as she had constructed a flat-looking egg sac, and she was very protective of it. Knowing Green Lynx spiders do not capture insects with a web, but rather prey on them and pounce like a cat to capture them (thus the name “lynx”), I often observed the female just a few inches from her egg. But as soon as I would get close with the camera, she would nimbly amble over to her egg sac to protect it.
Two or three weeks went by with Ms. Lynx in this protective state. Then one day, I discovered lots of tiny orange spiderlings clinging below the egg sac . These new-born spiders moved along very slowly, gently clinging to a stem of basil. There was no way to count the mass but there seemed to be hundreds! Over the next two weeks, I never saw the female move from her protective position watching over them. And by the third week, only a few spiderlings remained. In doing a little online research, I learned the young spiders use strands of silk to “balloon” away on the breeze to find their future homes. During this time, while her children drifted off to new adventures, the female remained near her egg sac. Unfortunately, I was unable to capture any clear photographs of the spiderlings.
Last week, we had a couple of light frosts. Wondering how Ms. Lynx was handling the frigid temperatures, I checked on my green lady friend and found her still near her egg, but looking a little pale. She was still alive, but her legs moved very slowly as I lightly brushed the browned basil leaves nearby. Looking more closely, it appeared there were a few spiderlings that had possibly perished while clinging to the basil stalks. This morning as I stepped out with Zoe, Bear and Mr. T, it was apparent we had a killing freeze in the night. The air was still, and the only sounds to be heard were of icy leaves dropping to the ground and the call of a woodpecker in the distance. I walked over to the basil and looked for my green friend. There she hung by one spiky leg, pale and expired. Her work as a mother was done. And somewhere in the woodlands and grasses beyond, hundreds of her offspring begin their own journeys. They will overwinter as babies, reaching maturity in the spring or summer, and the cycle will repeat.
I was a bit sad as I herded the dogs back into the house. I would miss my green lady friend. I was thankful that she shared the wonder and mystery of her life cycle with me. And I was glad that I took the time to observe and occasionally photograph her. But what I am left with mostly, is the reverence I feel in observing the tenacity, persistence, and resilience of the smallest beings in nature. In nature, even the smallest creatures are an important piece in the circle of life. They all matter… we all matter.
© 2015 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…