Green Ladies of the Fall

Silently they lurk, tucked into wild bouquets, awaiting the soft rustling of wings or the vibrations of tiny feet–and then they strike.

Mercy is not theirs to give. There are eggs to develop and a generation to feed. Eat they must, or perish without fulfilling their life’s goal—to lay and protect their eggs.

Their fierce beauty mesmerizes me this time of year.  They are beautiful and awful in equal measures, laying waste to dozens of cheery Bumblebees and an army of other insects in the space of a few weeks.

I have never tried to count or even estimate how many there might be at our refuge. They are far too numerous. Each one is uniquely beautiful, with subtle color and pattern variations, and eight outlandish clear legs dotted with orange knees and black bristles, all attached to a translucent milky jade body.

As the fall progresses, some will show splashes of pink as their abdomens swell to a ridiculous size. I wonder if the coloring is from something/someone they ate or if they are showing the spider equivalent of stretch marks and varicose veins.  

Soon their egg casings will be laid, suspended in a silken netting hidden beneath the leaves of a favorite plant. The casings themselves look as alien as their sources–flat on the top, and domed and spiky on the bottom. Who could dream up such a shape? And why is it favorable? There must be a reason. We know it works.

The mothers will tend their egg sacs, staying with them, defending them if needed. When the young inside are ready, their mother helps them escape the egg sac and take their place in the world. The babies will take most of a year to mature.

Green Lynx Spiders–green ladies of the fall, mighty huntresses, tenacious survivors, devoted mothers, fierce beauties.