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More on Daddy Longlegs

We had this daddy longlegs make his web** right on the outside of our window glass. We decided this was the perfect way to observe him as he moved around his web. We could get right up underneath him and look at his body parts. We had already learned that he is not an insect but we still thought he was an interesting subject for our nature study.

From page 434 of the
Handbook of Nature Study:
“In the North, all except one species die at the approach of winter; but not until after the female, which, by the way, ought to be called “granny longlegs.” has laid her eggs in the ground, or under some protecting stone, or in some safe crevice of wood or bark.”“They get their growth like insects, by shedding their skins as fast as they outgrow them. It is interesting to study one of these cast skins with a lens. There it stands with a slit down its back, and with the skin of each leg absolutely perfect to the tiny claw! Again we marvel at these legs that seem so threadlike, and which have an outer covering that can be shed. “

I found one of these exoskeletons in the web of this daddy longlegs. It looked just like the daddy longlegs and I wondered how it slipped its slender legs out of that skin. I read on another website that the daddy longlegs will shed its skin every ten days. I also read that they can grow a new leg if one gets broken….amazing and fascinating.

Page 434:
“Put a grandfather greybeard (daddy longlegs) in a breeding cage or under a large tumbler, and let the pupils observe him at leisure. If you place a few drops of sweetened water at one side of the cage, the children will surely have an opportunity to see this amusing creature clean his legs.”

The Handbook of Nature Study on page 434 also lists out eight activities you can do to observe the daddy longlegs. We are going to give a few of them a try the next time we have a daddy longlegs come to visit.

Here’s my original post on daddy longlegs:
Daddy Longlegs: Not an Insect

**I have since been told that daddy longlegs don’t construct webs. I did some additional research online to find the answer.
Here’s another source that may clear up the mystery and I will just cut and paste from Wikipedia:

“The Pholcidae are a spider family in the suborder Araneomorphae.
Some species, especially Pholcus phalangioides, are commonly called daddy long-legs spider, daddy long-legger, granddaddy long-legs spider, cellar spider, vibrating spider, or house spider. Confusion often arises because the name “daddy longlegs” is also applied to two distantly related arthropod groups: the harvestmen (which are arachnids but not spiders), and crane flies (which are insects).”

Okay, so you *have* to click on the photo to make it larger but you can really see the exoskeleton of the daddy longlegs. I went hunting for one today and I found this one in the eaves of my house….I was trying to take a photo and it blew down onto the potted plant and I thought it made a pretty background.

3 thoughts on “More on Daddy Longlegs

  1. Ewww. That’s not the same kind of Daddy Long-Legs we have here in TX. The ones here in TX don’t have webs. They just run around all over the place. I also have taken a photo of a similar one to the ones in TX that live in AR. They have a more red body. I wonder which is right? So if my spiders aren’t daddy long legs, what are they? We have called them that all our lives! 😉

    Here’s a link to my photo:
    2006 Autumn Homeschool Carnival Invitation

  2. In Oklahoma, we grew up calling them Granddaddy longlegs. And, like Sprittibee said, I have never seen a web – just a bunch of spiders running around. I took a photo of one here in TX on Friday – the first I’d seen in TX. He was on the side of a tree. I wonder if our kind make webs or not? Maybe we just aren’t seeing the webs???

  3. I was BITTEN about 5-6 times by red bodied Harvestmen or daddy long legs. I’m sure….They had infested a silk plant I left outside after it failed to make it to the dump a few times, they ran up my arm when I picked it up, some scattered to the grass, I brushed off the few that ran up my arm (so I thought). I stood there looking at the ones still lodged in the fake ferny protrusions thinking how curious that they had the red body…. I’ve let these guys (or the brown bodied relatives) run on me, let my kids handle them, put them outside when I find them in the house…never saw red bodies though…So, minutes later, burning in the back of my head made me feel my head behind my ear, I could clearly distinguish 5-7 bites through my hair (which was tightly up in a pony tail). Of course I went in to shower and shampoo about 10 times right away… I have always viewed these creatures as harmless, co-existed with them in my garden for many years up north, but now in North Carolina, these were the first I’d seen with RED bodies. My head swelled up the next day, very sore and swollen for days, stayed tender a few WEEKS. I felt sort of out-of-it for days as well, sort of drunk off spider venom? (but hadn’t died of anaphalactic shock, so figured I’d get better & did) and the bites took nearly a month to completely clear up. There are more varieties of spiders in N.C. than I’ve seen in my whole life, which is making me suit up to garden now and come to my senses about the new terrain. I’ve read that daddy long legs are poisonous but can’t bite you, while I have often championed the various spiders and snakes for their benefits, I now have a healthy respect for anything that looks like a “daddy long legs.”

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