Some Common Spiders in the Reserve
Silver Argiope Spider (Argiope argentata)
In coastal Southern California this large orb weaver spider favors the prickly pear cactus for its web location. Most years there are numerous occupied webs in the Reserve. This spider sits near the center of its web, upside down, almost always on the side facing the interior of the cactus. Its long legs are usually kept together in pairs, giving the impression at first of having only 4 legs. The web contains from zero to four thick zigzag sections of silk (called stabilmentum in the singular), always oriented at 45 degrees to the vertical or horizontal axes. The spider changes the number of these sections frequently, sometimes daily. The purpose of the stabilmentum, which reflects ultraviolet light, as do vegetation and the spider, is still not understood. The large spiders are the females; the males are much smaller and occupy smaller webs nearby. The egg sacs are light green in color, somewhat square in shape and flattened; they are attached either in the corners of the webs or on the cactus pads. The prickly pear cacti around the Visitor Center and on the Guy Fleming Trail along Animal Canyon are suggested places to see this spider.
Green Lynx Spider
The best time to look for this spider is in late summer. It is a large hunting spider, greenish in color with noticeable long hairs on its legs, that lies in wait for insects on or near flowers on large plants. The telegraph weed plants by the visitor parking lot are a favored location. About September or early October, the female green lynx deposits eggs in a spherical sac. Unlike many spiders that then move on, the green lynx guards the sac and cuts a slit in it at the proper time so that the young spiders can get out. These tiny spiders, light orange in color, will stay near the sac for maybe a week or so before dispersing. Visitors here at the right time will be treated to the sight of ballooning, in which each young spider spins a long strand of silk, which the breeze picks up and carries the spider away.
Other common spiders include the sheetweb weavers, which make funnel-shaped webs on the tops of shrubs and in grass, crab spiders that occupy flowers, and jumping spiders.
Pseudoscorpion (False Scorpion)
Garypus californicus – Pseudoscorpion
Adult: 3-4.5 mm
Class Arachnida/ Order Pseudoscopionida/ Family Garypidae
These small predators are common to the beach community of the Reserve in the highest intertidal areas under stones or driftwood or in kelp wrack. The pseudoscorpions have poison glands within the large pincher-like chelae instead of a “stinger” like their cousins the true scorpions. The chelae, are comprised of a fixed and a movable finger. The latter is equipped with a small tooth which is hollow like the fang of a snake. This pierces and injects the poison as the pincher grips, thus immobilizing the prey. The movable finger is also equipped with a spinneret, a tiny opening near the tip which produces silk with which the pseudoscorpions spin the coverings of their brood chambers and overwintering cocoons. During times of high winter surf, these tiny animals can be found in crevices higher on the cliffs within these tough cocoons.