Bug Blog

The Green Lynx Spider Spider Has Caused Human Injuries By Spitting Venom Into People’s Faces

The species of green lynx spider, Peucetia viridans, is a moderate to large sized spider species that is established in all southern states from California to South Carolina. In Arizona, green lynx spiders often live on prickly pear cactus specimens, which makes the green-colored spiders difficult to spot. In fact, these spiders use their green camouflage to hide on prickly pears until they have a chance to attack unsuspecting prey. P. viridans adults typically grow to three fourths of an inch in length, but their long legs make them appear much larger. These spiders pounce on their prey in a manner similar to cats, earning them the “lynx” name.

Green lynx spiders are aggressive spiders, but they prefer to avoid humans and they are rarely spotted indoors. However, these spiders will rush and bite anything that approaches their egg sacs, including humans, and they sometimes lay eggs within backyard gardens due to their preference for vegetation-rich habitats. The spiders are often spotted on prickly pear cactus specimens within Arizona yards. Green lynx spiders also have the ability to spit venom onto their prey. This venom erupts from the spider’s fangs and can travel as far as 8 feet. Numerous case reports describe humans as falling victim to their spitting venom. One case report described P. viridans venom as being spit into a man’s eye, causing “moderately severe chemical conjunctivitis (pink eye). Medical reports have also described human bite cases involving green lynx spiders, but few reports have described serious reactions to their venom.

viridans can be recognized for its seemingly transparent green body, red spots, and tiny hairs. The spider’s legs are long and covered in thick spines that mimic cactus thorns. P. viridans has been spotted 18 times by citizen scientists on an online survey, but none of these sightings occurred indoors. Most sightings occurred on and near homes where some consider the spiders to be beneficial for keeping insect pest populations in check.

Have you ever spotted a green lynx spider in your yard?