Where the farm borders woodlands, in grass tall and verdant and dense, two predators vie for dominance in a world that shows no mercy, for in the wildness of this place the instinct to survive and procreate is the only instinct that matters. And being a predator does not guarantee that you won’t become something else’s lunch.
So it is when a female feather-legged fly (Trichopoda pennipes), a parasitoid, chances to meet a female green lynx spider (Peucetia viridans), an ambush predator.
Though young and small, the arachnid hides in plain sight, her body color helping her blend with her surroundings, and there she waits with the patience only true ambush predators know, a stillness cloaking her like death, though her many eyes never cease looking, never cease watching, never cease measuring each chance to feed.
A predator in her own right, one who lays eggs on other creatures where her young burrow in and feast on the still-living host, the fly perhaps ventures near the spider hoping to give her offspring an arachnid meal, or perhaps she does not see the threat lying in wait. No matter the circumstances, the encounter pits one predator against another.
As I circle, gently prying apart blades of grass hoping to snap a photo of the aftermath, the spider circles with me, protecting her catch yet not fleeing. Lynx spiders do not run or hide easily, instead using their inherent stillness and stealth to hide, vanishing without moving.
With enough images to identify her prey, I leave her where I found her, yet I do not walk away completely satisfied. A mystery remains with her, one intrinsic in every such scene, one that begs answers when one killer kills another: What happened here? How did the encounter unfold? Was it luck or skill or a combination of both that created this result?
Where the farm borders woodlands, in grass tall and verdant and dense, two predators vied for dominance in a world that shows no mercy. Only one of them survived.