There are a few things in life I don’t like – orange seeds, earwigs and daddy long legs. All of the long legs, because as you’ll see there are different types of them. Yikes!
Table of Contents
What Is A Daddy Long Legs?
Daddy longlegs or daddy long legs may refer to:
- Opiliones or harvestmen, an order of arachnids
- Pholcidae or cellar spiders, a family of spiders
- Crane fly, a member of the family of insects in the order Diptera
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What Is A Harvestmen?
The Opiliones commonly called harvestmen or harvester or daddy long legs are an order of arachnids. Arachnida order includes scorpions, ticks, mites, harvestmen, solifuges, and of course spiders.
Over 6,000 species of harvestmen have been discovered worldwide although it is thought that the total number of existing species may exceed 10,000.
Although they are more often than not misidentified as spiders, the harvestmen are a distinct order that is not closely related to spiders. Their closest relatives may be the mites or the Novogenuata (the Scorpiones, Pseudoscorpiones, and Solifugae).
They can be easily distinguished from long-legged spiders by their fused body regions and single pair of eyes in the middle of the cephalothorax (head + thorax).
What Is A Cellar Spider?
The Pholcidae or commonly known as cellar spiders, carpenter spiders skull spiders, or daddy long legs, are a family of araneomorph spiders that contains more than 1800 species.
They are thin and fragile and their body is approximately 2–10 mm (0.08-0.39 inches) in length, and the legs may be up to 50 mm (1.97 inches) long.
Same as harvestmen, cellar spiders are found in every continent in the world except Antarctica.
Certain species of cellar spiders invade webs of other spiders to eat the host, the eggs, or the prey. They can be pretty sneaky as well, as they can in some cases vibrate the web of other spiders, mimicking the struggle of trapped prey to lure the host closer.
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What Is A Crane Fly?
Crane flies are commonly known as mosquito hawks or daddy longlegs and the larvae of crane flies are known commonly as leatherjackets or leathernecks.
Crane fly resembles an oversized mosquito and typically has a slender body and stilt-like legs that are easily coming off the body. They are large to medium-sized flies (7–35 mm) with elongated legs, wings, and abdomen. Their color is yellow, brown or grey.
Crane fly is a common name referring to any member of the insect family Tipulidae, of the order Diptera.
The Tipulidae is one of the largest groups of flies, including over 15,000 species and subspecies!
The adult female usually contains mature eggs as she emerges from her pupa, and often mates immediately if a male is available.
Adult crane flies rarely feed. Larvae live in the soil and eat roots. They also emerge at night to chew the bases of plant stems.
Can Daddy Long Legs Bite You?
Can daddy long legs bite you? That’s the concern everyone has. And the answer is that two of the three types can’t. Harvestmen have no venom or fangs at all so you’re safe from them and crane flies are not mosquitoes and they’re not stinging or biting you either.
But one of the daddy long legs can indeed bite you – the cellar spider. As you can see below in the part where I tell you if they are poisonous, Adam from MythBusters got bit. Ouch!
Can They Fly?
Crane flies can obviously fly but harvestmen and cellar spiders, being arachnids, can’t fly. Although…
They can take to the air nonetheless. They’ll climb to an exposed point and raise their abdomens to the sky, extrude strands of silk, and float away. It’ called ballooning.
Spiders have been found two-and-a-half miles up in the air, and 1,000 miles out to sea according to The Atlantic.
I’d keep an eye on all of them if I were you!
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Daddy Long Legs FAQ
I’m going to try and clear some misconceptions about our feared long legged insects. As all three types of daddys are different, there are some similarities.
Are Daddy Long Legs Poisonous?
There is a lasting urban legend that daddy long legs are the most venomous insects in the world, but have no ability to administer the venom. This, of course, is not true.
Although the cellar spider does possess venom, this has been debunked.
Crane fly doesn’t have any venom and therefore is not poisonous.
Why Do They Cluster?
Most of daddy long legs are pretty defenseless so they might cluster together to ward off predators.
Can You Keep Them As A Pet?
Just open the window and you’ll have multiple daddy long legs pets in no-time!
The male spiders can live up to a year and the female ones up to three years so I guess you could invest some time into their upkeep.
You can keep them in a terrarium as you would other spiders. Feed them bits of fatty meat, butter, bread crumbs, and insects. He’ll eat insects dead or alive including ants, worms, aphids, and beetles. They’ll need moisture, that’s why they spend most of the time in your bathroom.
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Place them in a glass-covered terrarium or 18″x12″x6″ box. Cover the floor with a half-inch of earth or coarse sand and be sure to provide water or the Harvestmen will soon die. Do this with dampened blotters, thus avoiding that problem with water surface tension. Change the blotters regularly to minimize mold. Finally, add some leaves for hiding places. Harvestmen will survive on tidbits of bread, butter and fatty meat as well a few tasty insects thrown in for good measure. – via GCMGA
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Can Daddy Long Legs (Cellar Spiders And Harvestmen) Kill Other Spiders?
They can kill and eat other spiders, including Australian redback spiders (whose venom can be fatal to humans) but that is done through its ingenious web-catching technique, not its venom.
Can Daddy Long Legs Swim?
I couldn’t find a definitive answer to that question but I don’t think any of the so-called daddy long legs can actually swim. They might “walk” on water with their long legs though. Brrrr
What Are They Good For?
They are quite harmless and super beneficial to your house and home.
Crane flies and their larvae are a very important
Harvestmen will eat dead or alive aphids, beetles, caterpillars, earthworms, flies, mites, small slugs, snails and spiders, to fecal matter and fungi.
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When Is Crane Fly Season?
According to National Geographic, adult crane flies emerge from the soil from mid-August to mid-September (late Summer), and within a day, they mate and lay up to 300 eggs at a time in grassy fields. Although adult crane flies live only briefly, the larvae may survive for over a year before becoming adults, all the while wreaking havoc to lawns and gardens.
Are They Mosquitos?
Daddy long legs are not mosquitos. Crane flies are a member of the insect family Tipulidae, one of the largest groups of flies.
Cellar spiders are a member family of araneomorph spiders and harvestmen are often misidentified as spiders but are actually an order of arachnids.
Are They Poisonous To Dogs?
They are not poisonous to your dogs or other pets. Although one of our daddy long legs – the cellar spider, does have venom, your pet should be fine if he or she eats them.
How Long Do Daddy Long Legs Live?
It takes about a year for the baby spiders to develop from egg to adult. Male daddy long legs typically live for about one year and die shortly after mating. Females can live for three years.
Should You Kill Them?
You shouldn’t kill daddy long legs as they’re, as I’ve said already, beneficial to your home and garden. If you need to take them out of your home because you’re too afraid of them, slide a big piece of paper under them and gently leave them outside of your house. Never pick them up by their legs because they can fall of, as a defense mechanism, and daddy long legs need their legs. They do not grow back out.
You see, we’re not that different after all.