Are daddy-long-legs actually spiders? Harvestmen, crane flies and cellar spiders explained – The Sun | The Sun
SPIDERS and daddy-long-legs are a familiar site in our households, often popping up unexpectedly in our bathrooms and kitchens.
Crane flies, harvestmen and cellar spiders are all known as daddy-long-legs – so what exactly are these creepy crawlies, and do they bite?
Are daddy long-legs really spiders?
The answer is actually more complex than you may have thought.
The name 'daddy long-legs' is used to refer to several different spiders, most often a crane fly, a cellar spider and harvestmen.
The main use of the American word daddy long-legs is in fact an Opilione arachnid, known formally as harvestmen.
They're not spiders, although they look very similar and are sometimes known as harvesters or shepherd spiders.
Harvestmen can be found all over the world and are omnivorous – meaning they will eat anything they can get their claws on, including small insects, amphibians, dead animals and plant materials.
In the UK, the creature commonly referred to as a daddy-long-legs is in fact NOT a spider.
Brits generally use the word daddy-long-legs to refer to craneflies – long-legged winged insects which are not spiders.
As an insect, it has six legs, and again can be found around the world. They are considered an agricultural pest because the larvae will eat crops.
Another type of spider that is sometimes referred to as a daddy-long-legs as a Pholcus phalangioides, or cellar spiders.
It lives in most places around the world but cannot survive in cold weather, so will often be found inhabiting the nooks and crannies of your warm house or the ceilings.
They are considered beneficial as they eat other, more dangerous spiders.
Everything you need to know about spiders
- UK spiders: The 24 British spiders you could find in your house
- How can I get rid of spiders from my house?
- Do UK house spiders bite?
- When is UK spider season?
- What do spider bites look like?
- Do conkers keep spiders away?
- What are the biggest spidersfound in the UK?
- What is a spider wrangler?
- What are Huntsman spiders?
Are daddy-long-legs poisonous?
Craneflies and Opiliones, aka harvestmen, are not venomous at all and don't pose any threat to humans.
The daddy long-legs from the spider family, Pholcus phalangioides, do have venom glands, however, there is no scientific evidence to confirm that the venom is harmful to humans.
How do I get rid of daddy-long-legs in my home?
Try to avoid them getting inside in the first place.
Seal the cracks and crevices around your windows and doors and keep windows shut or screened if you want to stop them getting inside.
Another spider-proofing tip is to keep the plants and bushes around the perimeter of your house trimmed so that they have no place to hide and lay their eggs.
If you are still infested try spraying some bug spray around the entrances and openings to your property.
Some are considered nuisances, and some are not.
Cellar spiders are actually considered beneficial predators as they eat a variety of smaller insects as well as gobbling up faeces and carcasses.
If you find one of these indoors, try to catch it gently using your hand or glass and release it outside to continue its work cleaning up the environment.
Crane flies however are considered agricultural pests, as their larvae – known as leatherjackets – eat the roots and leaves of crops and ornamental plants.
What are the differences between craneflies and spiders?
Aside from their long spindly legs, there are actually very few similarities between craneflies and spiders.
The most obvious difference between the two is that craneflies have wings and are insects.
They also only have six legs and two eyes, unlike their eight-legged, eight-eyed cousins.
What are the similarities between harvestmen and spiders?
Both creatures belong to the arachnid family.
This means that they have eight legs and both scuttle in a similar fashion.
However, while from a distance the creatures appear very similar, that is where the shared characteristics end.
Harvestmen are considered ancient arachnids.
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What are the differences between harvestmen and spiders?
The main difference between harvestmen and spiders is that spiders have a distinctive waist.
With harvestmen, the head, thorax and abdomen are all fused into one.
Additionally, spiders have eight eyes, whereas harvestmen only have two.
Another big difference between the creatures is that harvestmen don't produce silk and so can't create webs.
Interestingly, harvestmen also produce a smell when threatened and even weirder still, while spiders reproduce indirectly, harvestmen do in fact have penises.
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