Sunday, June 13, 2010

Daddy Longlegs


This is one of those arthropods that can be considered a misfit. They aren't an insect and they aren't quite a spider either, although they are related to spiders. Daddy Longlegs are one of those creepy crawlies that children identify with and love to hold. They are harmless, even though rumors persist that these spiders are highly venomous and if they could bite us they would be deadly. This simply is not true. They do not possess  venom; they instead feed on animal and plant matter.

Another creature often called daddy-longlegs are actually spiders. These long-legged spiders are in the family Pholcidae. Previously the common name of this family was the cellar spiders but arachnologists have also given them the moniker of "daddy-longlegs spiders" because of the confusion generated by the general public. Because these arachnids are spiders, they have 2 body basic body parts (cephalothorax and abdomen), have 8 eyes most often clumped together in the front of the body, the abdomen shows no evidence of segmentation, have 8 legs all attached to the front most body part (the cephalothorax) and make webs out of silk. This is most probably the animal to which people refer when they tell the tale because these spiders are plentiful especially in cellars (hence their common name) and are commonly seen by the general public. The most common pholcid spiders found in U.S. homes are both European immigrants. There is no proven documentation that even these spiders bite humans.

So this myth is definitely NOT true for the Daddy longlegs in the order Opilionides.....and it probably highly UNLIKELY for the Pholcids as well.


 Unlike spiders which have two body parts, a cehalothorax and an abdomen, daddy longlegs have one compact body. These spider-like creatures belong to the family Phalangiidae within the order Opiliones.  with up to 150 species north of Mexico in North America. They are powerfully difficult to ID to species. They are sometimes called harvestmen, harvest spiders, shepherd spiders, phalangids, and opilionids. Most spiders have 6 to 8 eyes, daddy longlegs have 2 eyes. They do not build webs and will only be found in a web if they happen to fall into one. Then at that time they are sure to be dinner for a much more aggressive spider. These oddballs of the insect realm are fond of moist areas and will often be found around rotting logs, under rocks or near damp basements and cellars.

Rest assured it is safe for your children and your grand-children to play with these little spiders (or in some cases not so little). They are no more harmful than lightning bugs or ladybugs.

Information derived from : http://www.backyardnature.net/longlegs.htm

17 comments:

  1. was always rather fond of the daddy longlegs... great photos!!! thanks for the link too ...

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  2. I've always liked them too. They are great insects to show children, especially when we are hiking. I always see at least one that we can pass around to the kids and let them feel as they crawl across their arms. This also gives me the opportunity to teach them that these beauties are not venomous. Your welcome for the link, since most of the info for this post came from there I figured I best share it...LOL

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  3. That first shot it aMAzing! Thanks for the interesting post. I've always wondered... =)

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  4. Thank you JR and Sue.

    Thanks Bio....and you are welcome. I admit to always wondering about them too :o)

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  5. I had one living in an upstairs bedroom, it never bothered me so I just let it be. On day I was sitting in the dining room and felt something crawling on my arm, so I swatted it. Whatever it was disappeared into the carpet, but all of a sudden my heart stopped because I thought maybe it was my Daddy Longlegs! I ran upstairs and there he was snuggled in the corner. Went to work and told a coworker about it, she said her Daddy Longlegs lived in her bathroom. I guess I wasn't all that crazy after all. Never knew they didn’t bite, thanks for the info.

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  6. I love Daddy Longlegs. I love calling them Harvestmen. They are all over my Impatiens flowers. When I water they scurry out but they make their way back in no time. Daddy Longlegs/Harvestmen are one, one of the best things about summer :) Shelly I enjoyed this post and the captures are wonderful!

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  7. I have always liked them too. They are so fun to play with. Great for kids, because they aren't fast or intimidating. I'm so glad you enjoyed this post, and thank you for your kind comments

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  8. Hello from Texas!
    http://www.brendaphotochallenge.blogspot.com
    SO glad you've signed up for the Challenge Bedtime! Don't forget, they're due this Saturday...Can't wait to see your photos!
    Have a great day...Like your blog! Great photos!
    Donna

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  9. Must be careful coming over here... I have a touch of spider phobia that I control tightly. I saw on myth busters where they set Adam's arm in a container filled with daddy longlegs. They bit him but he was fine. He had little tiny red dots on his arm from it. But more folks need to know the TRUTH! Now on black widows... I'd have had to run. :)

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  10. I had similar feelings towards spiders for more years than I can count. I am slowly overcoming my arachnophobia. I saw that episode you are talking about on Myth Busters. It took them forever to even get them to bite him. I have never been bitten by one, and I am pretty sure they won't. I am with you though, more people need to know the truth. For some reason I consider it my mission to Debunk myths about our wild creatures. So many of them get a bad rap. It is one of the reasons I love my job....I get em while they are young...LOL

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  11. The daddy long legs love hanging out around my front doorway on the porch. They have been very active this past month.

    Lovely blog btw!
    Seven

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  12. They seem to be hanging more in my garden this year, which is unusual. In past years they have hung around my porch like you described. I have been seeing a large amount of them this year.
    Thank you for the compliment too :o)

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  13. Thanks for the info, I always played with them as a kid, never been bitten until now, hell I didn't think then could, but one got stuck under my shirt, it is a little itchy,but as you stated, seemingly harmless. I still think it's safe to leave around kids. Not a bad animal to have around.

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  14. I seriously did not think they could bite. They did an episode of myth busters where Jamie put his hand in a tank full of them and they had to coax them to bite and even then it was nothing more than a nip. There were hundreds in the tank with him and I think only one or two bit him. Crazy. I've handled them hundreds of times and never got bit. Thank you for sharing this experience, I always like to hear things like this.....

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  15. I have tons of daddy longlegs on my impatiens. The plants aren't doing well at all. Do the daddy longlegs harm them, or do I have another culprit that's responsible for eating the leaves and leaving bare stalks?

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  16. It shadens me that the little red bumps you see sometimes on them are mites. The poor spidey, they have to itch but i never see them itching. Probably because they can't. :(

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