Saturday 24 October 2015

Oxyopidae: lynx spiders

Credit: Ferran Turmo Gort, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 via Flickr

A mainly tropical family, with just one British species, Oxyopes heterophthalmus, a small, cryptically coloured spider. Their long legs are furnished with stout long spines which may help in prey capture. They are diurnal, very agile visual hunters that run and sit amongst flowers and other low vegetation, often ambushing pollinating insects (top shot), but they can also pounce on prey. No hunting webs are made.

Local heathland specialist
Oxyopes heterophthalmus lives in sheltered mature dry heathland. It is found in some small sites in Surrey, and is probably declining although it can common in some sites. Although it used to be found in the New Forest, it hasn't been seen there for over a century.

Life cycle
Adults are found in May and June. Courtship involves visual palp signals and vibrations by the male.
Females sit guarding their large, flattened egg sac in July at the top of plants. They might need two years to become mature.

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