Peucetia lucasi (Vinson, 1863)

Description

Peucetia lucasi is one of the larger members of the genus Peucetia. Females reach a body length of 22 mm. They have a stocky build with a drop-shaped opisthosoma.
Their base color is green with a distinctive red median band on the opisthosoma, enclosed by two thin, partially interrupted white bands reaching from the pedicel to the spinnerets.
The prosoma has a transcluscent green color, with few markings. Two short, black lines are positioned posterior to the fovea. The clypeus is marked with four lines which extend to the base of the chelicerae.
The femur is transcluscent, colorless and shows a densely spotted pattern. Distal parts of the femur can be the same color, as the patella and proximal area of the tibia, a rather bright yellow, the major part of the tibia is orange to red while the metatarsus and tarsus are a saturated red. The legs are heavily spined with black, long spines spreading over the whole leg area.

Terrarium

To successfully keep Peucetia lucasi one of the most important factors is good ventilation. It is advised to replace at least one side of the tank with mesh, to ensure enough air exchange. A tank of the size 20x20x20 cm or 8x8x8 inches is suitable to keep a couple with the offspring. It is even possible to raise offspring in the vivarium with the parental generation. In Europe there are boxes by the company “BraPlast”, which perfectly meet the requirements.

The substrate needs to hold moisture to some degree and be free of chemicals. The author usually uses cheap gardening soil, but also peat or humus may be used.
As for structure it is important, that the Lynx spiders have enough suitable surfaces for climbing and securring their threads. They don’t build, but the silk threads are there for better mobility and security.
Cork bark is a good and easy way to create a lot structure. Plants and twigs may also be used for aesthetical purposes.

Climate

Peucetia lucasi inhabits the tropical forests in Madagascar.
They live in rather hot and dry conditions, where temperatures reach a maximum of 32-34 °C and between April and December they are exposed to rather low humidity.(1) Rain season is in the other half of the year, where humidity rises and temperatures drop.
There have no studies been done on positive effects on Peucetia lucasi by simulating the alternation of the seasons.

In captivity Peucetia lucasi should be kept at 26-34 °C and a medium humidity of 50-60 %. Observations have been made by the author that drier conditions lead to dehydration of the eggs and that long-term high humidity (especially when correlated with bad ventilation resulting in waterlogging) accelerates lethal fungal growth.
Humidity is reached by misting every 3-4 days; it is important to not directly spray spiders or egg sacs.

The temperature must be combined with good lighting, as lynx spiders are very heliophilic. This is reached by using lamps above the terrarium, direct sunlight has to be avoided, as it can lead to an overheating of the enclosure.
The list of possible lighting techniques range from simple halogen lamps for cooler rooms to fluorescent tubes in warm houses. Since Madagascar is close to the equator lighting durations of constant 12 hours perfectly suits their natural rhythm.

Diet

Lynx spiders are diurnal, active hunting visual predators. Their diet is completely insectivorous.  Once they spot prey items, they approach it gradually and leap onto it, spreading their two front leg pairs to cage the prey. They are able to take down rather large insects and kill them rather quickly. To meet all the needs regarding nutrition one should feed them with various insects. Arboricol and flying insects are preferred, but Peucetia also waits close to the ground to feed on terrestrial insects like crickets. Good experiences have been made with flies of the genus Lucilia, Sarcophagidae, Crickets, Drosophila, Phoetalia pallida (roaches) and small locusts.
The feeder insects gain a lot of nutritional value, when they are prefed with vegetables or fruits, the so called gut-loading.

Breeding

After 8-12 months Peucetia usually reaches maturity and they live up to 12-14 months as adults (about 1.5-2 years in total).
To properly check entelegyne spiders like Peucetia spp. for maturity, it is important to check the development of their genitalia. Only mature Lynx Spiders have sclerotized and fully developed genitals. More precise: In males you have to check for the bulbus on the distal end of the pedipalp (Ill. 2.1 and 2.2), while in females you have to check for the epigyne. Mature females should have spent at least 1-2 weeks in a bigger tank, to put a lot of safety threads and spread pheromones as preparation for mating. The female should be fed a lot to prevent her from eating the male due to sexual cannibalism. The male is introduced to the female and usually immediately starts with courtship. The male slightly touches the females prosoma and tries to calm her. When she’s conceptive, she lowers herself on a silk thread and gives the male access to her ventral side. The male aims for her epigyne and inserts one of his emboli (apical part of the bulbus).

Ill. 2.1: Male bulbus
Ill. 2.2: Male pedipalp

About 1-3 weeks after mating the female lays a big white to grayish egg sac with about 1.5 cm (0.5 inch) in diameter. It contains about 80-140 eggs. It is important to try to refeed the female while trying to disturb her as little as possible. Usually 3-5 weeks after the nymphs hatch showing a light brown color. The nymphs can be raised communaly, even in the terrarium of the female. To avoid high losses due to cannibalism, a lot of food of appropriate size has to be fed. The authors main choice is Drosophila hydei. After 2-3 months the juveniles are seperated and raised individually in small tubs with good ventilation. The care is identical to the one of adults, with the difference that the juveniles in nature hatch in the slightly cooler and more humid rain season in Madagascar.

Peucetia lucasi or Peucetia madagascariensis?

Even after years in captivity, still lots of people use the name Peucetia madagascariensis for Peucetia lucasi. I had the opportunity to check most of the different imported lineages of Peucetia from Madagascar in the past years and all of them were Peucetia lucasi. Only one person had true Peucetia madagacariensis, but he never sold any specimens.
All of the madagascarian Peucetia specimens shared online in Europe, Asia and America are Peucetia lucasi. If in doubt, people are always welcome to contact the site owner.


Sources

(1) Patrick Andriamihaja, personal conversation.