Dispelling Bug Myths: Daddy Longlegs

Daddy Longlegs are not the most venomous (NOT POISONOUS. Pet peeve of mine. Venom is injected, poison is ingested, unless you're just using layman's terms, but please don't) spider. Most of the time, when people say "Daddy Longlegs", they aren't even talking about spiders.

Two different species of arachnids go by the common name "Daddy Longlegs", as does the crane fly. We'll ignore the crane fly for now, but no, it also has no deadly venom.

The first oft misunderstood arachnid is the Harvestman, belonging to the order Opiliones. These are delicate-looking arachnids that are easily distinguished from spiders, despite their matching number of legs. Harvestmen have a fused prosoma and opisthisoma (cephalothorax and abdomen), which makes them seem like a small oval with hairs for legs. They also have no venom whatsoever (or even proper fangs, instead possessing chelicerae more akin to a scorpions); lack spinnerettes; are capable of eating particulate food (not just liquid as spiders); and have true genitalia rather than relying on sperm packets. These are just the most interesting of their differences, and they truly deserve a post all their own.

The other poor victim of wide slander is the cellar spider. These belong to the order I adore so much, Aranea,  with their family being Pholcidae. They are also rather gangly fellows, although their legs do not share the same hair-resemblance of the Opiliones. Pholcidae opisthosomas are rice-grain shaped, although the entire body length of the spider is only about 3/4 the size of a grain of rice, typically.
These "daddy longlegs" have webs resembling a mess of silk and are usually found in places like your basement or in dark corners of your shed. They make a habit of devouring other spiders who typically share their space such as the dreaded Brown Recluse (itself not nearly so horrible as it is made out to be) as well as members of Latrodectus (a family that includes the black widow).  Pholcids are, therefore, a great asset to have in your home. Oh, and their venom has been found to be no more toxic than most spiders.

Now go forth and inform your friends!

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