WE’RE all familiar with the sight of the long-limbed creatures in our bathrooms and kitchens.
But what exactly are daddy long-legs? Do they bite and are they really spiders? And how can you discourage them from invading your home? Here’s the lowdown.
Are daddy long-legs really spiders?
The answer is actually more complex than you may have thought.
While the common English creature commonly referred to as a daddy long-legs is in fact NOT a spider – it is an insect because it has six legs – there is another type of spider that is sometimes wrongly referred to as a daddy long-legs.
Brits generally use the word daddy long-legs to refer to craneflies – long-legged winged insects which are not spiders.
The main use of the American word daddy long-legs is in fact an Opilione arachnid, known formally as harvestman.
They’re not spiders, although they look very similar.
Finally, the house spider Pholcus phalangioides is also frequently referred to as a daddy long-legs, although this is a very colloquial use of the word.
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, does have venom glands, however there is no scientific evidence to confirm that the venom is harmful to humans.
That is unlike the swarms of midges that descend on the UK every summer.
How do I get rid of a 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.
They might be a nuisance in your home, but try not to kill them. Daddy long legs are actually considered a beneficial predator as they eat a variety of smaller insects as well as gobbling up faeces and carcasses.
If you find a daddy long-legs indoors, try to catch it gently using your hand or a glass and release it outside to continue its work cleaning up the environment.
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.
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 the 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.
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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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