Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Green and yellow, kill a fellow

with 54 comments

Green Lynx with Killed Bee on Goldenrod 6571

On September 29th near the intersection of E. Stassney Ln. and Burleson Rd. in southeast Austin, I photographed some flowering goldenrod plants (Solidago spp.), among the first good ones of the season. On one plant I noticed a green lynx spider (Peucetia viridans) that had killed a bee (I don’t know what species). Those of you who aren’t arachnophobic and would like an enlargement of the fatal encounter may click the following icon.

Green Lynx with Killed Bee on Goldenrod 6571A

After I’d taken a few pictures of the spider, a sharp feeling on the skin of one leg suddenly made aware that I’d been standing on a fire ant nest, so I had to give up trying for any more views of this little drama.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 8, 2015 at 4:58 AM

54 Responses

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  1. It’s a spider eat bee world out there. Nice to be at the top of the food chain, isn’t it?

    Steve Gingold

    October 8, 2015 at 5:10 AM

  2. Die Spinne sieht toll aus !!!


    October 8, 2015 at 5:16 AM

  3. An action shot! I wouldn’t want to encounter the spikes on the spider anymore than I would want to stand on a fire ant nest. There were fierce red ants in Fiji. We could see their nests in our local park (on the football field actually). We thought it was fun to poke sticks into the nest, annoy the ants, and then try to escape before they attacked us. Sometimes we weren’t fast enough. I shake my head. The things we did when there was no TV for excitement.


    October 8, 2015 at 5:40 AM

    • There’s lots of action out there in nature because so many little critters are wholly or partly carnivorous, although their small size can make it difficult for photographers to see.

      Your account from childhood strikes me as the kind of thing children do in every culture. We’ll send you a retroactive “Sorry” for the times when the ants were faster than you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 8, 2015 at 6:15 AM

      • It’s good of you to be ‘sorry’ but we probably deserved those bites and more.


        October 9, 2015 at 1:21 AM

  4. I am glad you didn’t come to a dead end. You are playing with a nursery rhyme of some sort?


    October 8, 2015 at 5:42 AM

  5. Amazing capture; what a good eye you have, or two good eyes I should say!


    October 8, 2015 at 5:52 AM

  6. Outstanding shots!!!
    Hope the fire ants didn’t get too far … They are so fast and can be painful for days.

    Birder's Journey

    October 8, 2015 at 6:46 AM

    • You’re right about the speed of fire ants, so one hopes to be alerted before they’ve started climbing. I ended up with a few bites but they weren’t too bad.

      One clarification about the “shots”: the second is actually an enlargement from the first rather than a separate photograph.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 8, 2015 at 7:21 AM

  7. Awesome and ouch!

  8. I’ve never seen a green spider, especially one so well-equipped for grasping and holding prey. Those nasty-looking spines on its legs are impressive.

    There were some amazing photos of fire ant rafts during the recent flooding in South Carolina. I knew about their ability to float, but didn’t realize that they secrete an oily substance that helps them along.

    It did occur to me recently that fire ant mounds provide a great opportunity to learn to use shutter speed to stop motion. Poke a hole in the top of a mound, and shoot away. There are plenty of frenzied ants, but with only a hole to contend with, they stay on the mound and begin repairs, rather than attacking the numbskull who’s stirred them up.


    October 8, 2015 at 7:42 AM

    • Better than the purple cow is the green spider, which has the virtue of existing. Not only does this species exist, but it’s fairly common in the Austin area, giving me many opportunities to photograph it over the years. I showed a picture of a green lynx in the early days of this blog


      but after four years it was high time to show another.

      That was a good video showing a fire ant raft. A propos, I think you and Gallivanta should get together to play with some ants. Your comments suggest that the two of you would have a lot of fun.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 8, 2015 at 8:06 AM

  9. That is one very spiky spider! And I respect you for suffering for your art. A true artist.


    October 8, 2015 at 7:43 AM

    • Your words make me think we should change the song from “The eensy weensy spider” to “The very spiky spider.” The replacement has the same rhythm as the original.

      Thanks for sympathizing with the sufferings of a true artiste (and I’ve added an -e to show I really am a vrai artiste).

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 8, 2015 at 7:55 AM

  10. Enhorabuena Steve, porque no es fácil distinguir la araña y por la suerte de haberla podido fotografiar con su presa. Yo estoy preparando algo similar…
    Un abrazo.

  11. Awesome capture! That is really a spectacular looking spider.


    October 8, 2015 at 10:10 AM

    • The green lynx is a handsome spider, no question. It’s also pretty common around Austin, so I see one from time to time.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 8, 2015 at 10:31 AM

  12. I hope that’s a macro shot 😉 I’ve never seen a spider quite like that .. He means business.


    October 8, 2015 at 2:14 PM

    • The second picture is an enlargement of the main part of the first. The fire ants kept me from getting as close as I’d hoped to get.

      Many spiders look ferocious when you get a close look at them, and that’s one reason I like to do macros.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 8, 2015 at 4:02 PM

  13. Amazing pictures!


    October 8, 2015 at 2:16 PM

  14. As I’ve said many times, you do suffer for your art, Steve! I’m glad the fire ants didn’t swarm over you. These tough Texan nature photographers. 😉 You did well to notice the well camouflaged spider drama. You must have super eyes as well as super camera skills! Great shot.


    October 9, 2015 at 6:36 AM

    • I’m all too aware of how much I suffer for my art because my body keeps reminding me. If only I could sit home and take my nature pictures mentally…

      Judging from your blog, I’d say you notice a great many interesting things too. Perhaps you’ve wondered, as I often have, how many other curious things we’ve walked right past without noticing them. One reason I think there must be many such unnoticed things is an experience I’ve frequently had: I’ll take pictures as I walk along a path, and if the return trip back takes me back on the same path, I’ll see things that had to have been there on the outward-bound part of the walk but that I’d not noticed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 9, 2015 at 7:00 AM

      • Ah yes, that happens to me regularly, Steve. I often wonder how I could have missed those things the first time. I tell my hiking partners that I’m putting the camera away now for the return part and they don’t believe me for some strange reason. 😉


        October 9, 2015 at 7:04 AM

        • And think of all the things that lay just off the path we took. I sometimes get frustrated that I can’t be at all my familiar nature sites at the same. Whichever one I go to on a given day, I’ve necessarily missed some great things at the others.

          However, when it comes to “putting the camera away now for the return part,” I try not to do that, because I’ve often enough had the experience of planning to photograph something on the way back, only to find that the light has changed and what I thought looked good no longer does. And of course I sometimes end up coming back by a different route, so that there’s no second chance to deal with the postponed thing.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 9, 2015 at 7:13 AM

  15. Why “kill a fellow”? EatTheWeeds says it was the main tea of the first New England settlers, but watch for a poison fungus.


    October 10, 2015 at 5:44 AM

    • I’d thought about putting an asterisk at the end of the title and giving an explanation in a footnote, but in the end I didn’t do that. I was parodying a little rhyme about snakes that lets people distinguish between the coral snake, which is venomous, and similar-looking snakes with bands of color that aren’t venomous. The original ditty has several variants; the one I first encountered begins with “Red and yellow kill a fellow”:


      The upshot is that in my title I mixed the green color of the spider with the yellow of the goldenrod, and the fellow that got killed was the bee.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 10, 2015 at 7:33 AM

    • A propos the early New England settlers, a few years ago I learned about a theory that the supernatural and demonic things people testified to having seen during the Salem witch trials were due to a hallucinogenic fungus that the witnesses had inadvertently ingested.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 10, 2015 at 7:36 AM

      • That’s an interesting theory, but what about the “witches” that were killed all over Europe? The “Catholic” virus?


        October 12, 2015 at 6:16 AM

        • You raise a good point. Sometimes there are different explanations for things that appear similar, so the persecution of “witches” in one place might be attributable to a different cause than the persecution of “witches” in another place. We could liken that to the biological notion of convergent evolution, in which unrelated types of organisms develop a similar feature, e.g. wings on insects and wings on birds. We could even liken the idea to a fact of linguistics: two similar strings of words can represent two quite different underlying grammatical structures. A classic example is this pair:

          Time flies like an arrow.
          Fruit flies like a banana.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 12, 2015 at 6:55 AM

  16. You have all the luck with the arachnids! Never seen that variety before. Love his spiny legs, and you really captured him SHARPLY.

    I photographed goldenrod at Brazos Bend SP yesterday. First time ever to do so, though it pops up (occasionally) in my own yard. Incidentally, there were a couple of other wildflowers I would love to ID, this one and this one, that I’d never seen before. The park officials had no idea. Those single plants were the only sightings on the entire length of the trail!


    October 10, 2015 at 2:34 PM

    • I’m surprised that you haven’t encountered a green lynx, because they’re common enough around here. As for this one, I was pleased that the picture of it came out as sharp as it did, given that the fire ants kept me from getting as close as I wanted to. I’m similarly surprised that you’ve only just now photographed goldenrod, because it’s a staple of autumn. I’m glad you finally got the chance.

      The first of your linked pictures shows a species of dayflower:


      The second looks like it might be a species of Sagittaria.

      I’m surprised (for the third time in this reply) that the park officials had no idea what these plants are.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 10, 2015 at 6:07 PM

      • The surprise is all mine! Thanks for the ID’s. As for the park officials, the people ‘ in the hut’ don’t seem to know as much as those wandering the paths, I find. I’ll have to look for that spider more closely now, and the problem of my photographing flowers (or anything else) is more a function of time and getting out to ‘play’ with the camera. Goldenrod is around, but I have to drive to it. Suburbia has all but destroyed any wild habitat near us.


        October 10, 2015 at 8:47 PM

        • I lost 4 or 5 sites in this area to development in 2014, and I believe a similar number this year. That’s the greatest rate of loss here since I became interested in native plants in 1999. Some of the places where I go are parks or preserves, but my choices are slowly diminishing.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 10, 2015 at 8:59 PM

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