The largest order of arachnids, spiders rank seventh in terms of total species diversity among all other orders. There are more than 45,000 known species of spiders found in habitats all over the world. When I first started photographing these eight-eyed, eight-legged creatures, my first encounter was with a Green Lynx Spider (Peucetia sp.). This collection of images and observations has been curated over the years, and documents the complete life cycle of this common yet understudied species. These observations might seem simple, but unlike other animals, recording and observing spiders is by no means an easy task. It took me five years to put this together!
Lynx spiders often stay motionless on flowers where they are sure to come across unsuspecting prey. Their long spiny legs and characteristic eyes make them easily identifiable. Here, a gravid mother waits patiently, in the stillness of her perfect camouflage.
Here, she’s vigilantly guarding her egg sac. Female lynx spiders are dedicated mothers! When they are ready to lay their eggs, female spiders find a secure place and then cover it in protective silk in the form of a spheroid. They then guard the egg sac closely, protecting it from predators.
The eggs hatch after about two weeks, and in another two weeks, the hatchlings become fully functional spiderlings. They pass through eight instars or larval stages before reaching maturity. Here, they can be seen exploring their immediate surroundings under the insistent supervision and protection of their mother.
Green Lynx Spiders are mostly seen in shrubby vegetation, and are a common sight in gardens. These arboreal spiders are free-ranging and can be found perched on dried flowers like this juvenile munching on its prey. Spiderlings often fall prey to other insects and spiders.
Every living organism grows old. We shed hair and skin cells every day, but in many invertebrates, this process can be more significant as they cast parts of their body periodically or at a specific stage in their lives. Here, a Green Lynx Spider sheds its old skin. During moulting, they tend to be more vulnerable to predators.
No life history is complete without describing the procreation methods of the species. Here is a male lynx approaching a mature female. Mating can be a risky affair! If the female is not receptive, there are even chances of cannibalism. In some spider species, the female eats the male after mating.
When a spider consumes all or part of another individual of the same species, it can be termed as cannibalism. In the majority of cases, female spiders kill and eat a male before, during or after copulation. Cases in which males eat females are rare. Here, a lynx spider feeds on another member of the same species.
Green Lynx Spiders have been observed eating insects and spiders and are considered important pest controlling agents. Here, opportunistic jackal flies (best known as kleptoparasites of predatory invertebrates) are seen troubling an adult female lynx spider.
Lynx spiders are ambush predators like crab spiders. Here, an adult Green Lynx Spider feasts on a queen ant. These spiders have a wide variety of insects in their diet.
Lynx spiders preying on other spiders and insects are a common sight. But rarely do you see instances of a lynx spider falling prey to an insect. Here, a Bark Mantis feeds on a lynx spider. A reminder that no predator reigns supreme!
This photo story was originally published in Nature inFocus.