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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Family: Oxyopidae (lynx spiders)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Ecdysozoa > Panarthropoda > Tritocerebra > Arthropoda > Arachnomorpha > Cheliceriformes > Chelicerata > Euchelicerata > Arachnida > Araneae > Araneomorpha

The family name, Oxyopidae, is derived from the Greek meaning sharp sighted but the name for the genus for Oxyopes seems to differ The colloquial name refers to the catlike manner of prey capture. The family has a world wide occurrence with 3 genera found in South Africa.

Oxyopids are diurnal, arboreal (plant living) spiders usually found on shrubs, grasses and trees, using their excellent vision to pursue and catch prey. They are 3 clawed spiders which abandon the web-bound life-style for a more active cursorial one. Recently, a Costa Rican species of the genus Tapinillus has been reported to build a web. Not much is known about the biology of our lynx spiders. Most observations have been of the odd American or foreign species. This is an interesting family to observe and record ones findings. Oxyopids range from small to large spiders (525mm). Viewed head-on, the cephalic (head) area is high, with 6 of the 8 eyes arranged in a hexagonal formation with a large clypeus (area below eyes to anterior edge of carapace [something like a large upper lip]).

Genera indigenous to southern Africa

Oxyopes (golden or grass lynx spiders)

Derived from the Greek "oxys" means "quick" and "pesos" means "footed" with reference to the spiders fleet footedness. The integument covered with yellow to grey spatulate setae giving the spider its cryptic colour to blend in with the vegetation. Oxyopes actively searches for prey, it stalks and often leaps from branch to leaf and finally pouncing on its prey or leaping a few centimeters into the air to catch flying insects.


Peucetia (green lynx spiders)

Peucetia is less energetic than Oxyopes and is usually found wandering about plants in a leisurely fashion. They are often found on plants with viscid hairs, which trap insects. Peucetia lays down silken threads along which it walks, avoiding being caught, and robs it of the trapped insects. Prey are also captured by hanging from silk with the hind legs and using the first 2 pairs to sweep in prey,. The legs with spines form a capture basket.


Hamataliwa (dome-headed lynx spiders)

Medium spiders (4-10mm) with a squat body resembling some genera of the Thomisidae (crab spiders). Utilizes thomisid tactics by waiting on a branch or on bark, often mimicking a knot, bud or thorn, then ambushes passing insects. They appear not to jump (or only rarely) while some species are reported to be terrestrial.


Text by Norman Larsen .