A week ago a strange looking spider was observed maneuvering up a wall at home in Beacon Bay, East London. It was small in size with large spiny bristles on the legs. It responded quite quickly to human movement and moved swiftly up the wall.
Intrigued and unable to identify the spider I contacted Astri Leroy of the Spider Club of South Africa (firstname.lastname@example.org). She quickly responded with the following reply ‘It’s a male (see the hugely modified ends to his palps, like little boxing gloves) small lynx spider, of the family Oxyopidae, in the genus Oxyopes. There are a number of species in this genus that are common, widespread and very difficult to separate into species from photos. In fact as far as I can recall just under 30 different species in the genus’.
Reading up on these spiders it is further revealed that they do not build a web, are not known to be harmful to humans and are found on flowers, leaves, grasses and occasionally come indoors. The numerous spines stand out at right angles to the legs and some of the species can be very brightly coloured.
A behavioural trait of stalking and jumping at prey like a cat probably gives rise to their common name – the lynx spider. They have been known to jump 2 cm in the air to seize a passing insect in full flight.
Spiders of southern Africa by Astri and John Leroy
Southern African spiders: An identification guide by Martin R. Filmer