Organizations We Love: Theodore Payne Foundation

Nov 10, 2010

The Theodore Payne Foundation is well known for their efforts to promote the understanding and preservation of California native flora. Their newsletters are always full of great information and exciting events. I’ve only been there a few times, but they were unforgettable experiences. If you’re in the area, stop by their center to find amazing native plants for sale. Their latest newsletter had the most amazing story about a spider that I just had to share it with you all.

Words and Photo by Lisa Novick

Green Lynx Spider photo by Lisa Novick

Friend of Theodore Payne,

Green Lynx spiders are one of the few arachnids that display maternal care. For the hour that I watched her last Friday morning, this mama Green Lynx spider spent her time defending her spiderlings from ants. Perched at the top of my Fuyu persimmon tree, Mama patiently waited until an ant made a move on one of her babies, then picked up the ant and dropped it from the tree. Then, when one of her spiderlings started to drop away from the nest, Mama reached down and lifted the baby back into the protection of the web. This mama’s abdomen looks withered, and that is probably because this mama is not long for this world. The Green Lynx spider is an annual univoltine species, meaning that the species lives only one year and has only one brood or generation per year. After a reproductive season during the summer, oviposition of anywhere from 25 to 600 eggs in the autumn, and hatching and dispersal of juveniles by ballooning in winter, the juveniles grow to maturity during the spring, passing through four to ten instars before the cycle repeats. Mama even opens the egg case to help her young emerge — how sweet!

Lisa also adds:

90% of all insect species can eat only plants that are native to their region.  Insects are the basis of the food chain because they convert leaf matter to protein.  Most non-domesticated land animals depend upon insects in some way for their survival.  So, California native plants not only save water, they save wildlife as well.

The caterpillars of most butterflies and moths can eat only a few species of native plants.  Without native plants, most butterflies and moths go extinct.  This would be terrible because butterflies and moths are pollinators AND because caterpillars are the main food (think soft, squishy pure protein) of baby birds.  Everything is connected:  Without caterpillars, our bird populations crash.  And we would have so much less beauty in the world.

Thanks so much Lisa for letting us share you story with our readers and for all the amazing work Theodore Payne is doing to preserve native flora!

Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers & Native Plants, Inc.
10459 Tuxford Street, Sun Valley CA 91352
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