Biodiversity & Evolution

The truth about daddy longlegs

The arachnid order Opiliones has several common names in English including daddy longlegs, grand daddy longlegs and harvestmen.  I have many wonderful things to share with you regarding the natural history of Opiliones so I’m going to post it in a series of about five posts. Here is the first fun fact to whet your appetite.  Keep an eye out for the others very soon!

Longlegs fact #1: Daddy longlegs are NOT spiders.

They are also not insects.  So what are they?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  Daddy longlegs are arachnids belonging to the order Opiliones.  The subclass Arachnida includes spiders, scorpions, mites/ticks, daddy longlegs, and several smaller groups, all of which belong to different orders.  So daddy longlegs are distantly related to spiders, but are actually more closely related to scorpions!

These incredible arachnids are easily overlooked, as they are most active at night and many species are very secretive in their behavior.  Here’s a few examples of species from Costa Rica:

Prionostemma sp. feasting upon what remains of an insect

Cynorta marginalis eating an earthworm as a second individual sneaks up.

Poecilaemula signata (male) with enlarged chelicerae

The orange harvestman, an undescribed species

For more arachnid photos see my Arachnid gallery.

15 responses

  1. Nice photos, thanks for sharing

    July 20, 2012 at 12:30 am

    • Thank you for visiting. I like the gardening tips you post on your blog. Very informative!

      July 20, 2012 at 12:45 am

  2. Superb macro!!! Cheers Nonoy Manga

    July 20, 2012 at 12:44 am

    • Thanks Nonoy, that’s some great artwork you’ve posted on your blog! Wish I could draw that well…I’d be able to make some great scientific line drawings of arachnids!

      July 20, 2012 at 1:28 am

      • Dan your welcome.

        July 20, 2012 at 1:45 am

  3. Dan, I’m glad to see you posting some of your large collection of harvestmen photos and very much look forward to upcoming installments in your series.

    July 20, 2012 at 12:51 am

  4. Thanks Mike, I’m glad I finally went back and sorted through them. Still a lot to do, but making progress!

    July 20, 2012 at 1:26 am

  5. Nice set of images!

    July 20, 2012 at 1:35 am

  6. Pingback: Part II: Truth about daddy longlegs « danielproud

  7. Great post! I’m so sick of that old corporate saw, “And the bite of the Daddy long legs is the deadliest of all spiders…” I addressed it in 2009 but not with nearly so much finesse or with such lovely photos!


    August 7, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    • Thanks Karla, always glad to see others out there trying to debunk these crazy myths that cause so many to fear spiders and other arachnids!

      August 7, 2012 at 2:50 pm

  8. Thank you for liking my blog Dan – but you will know now about my spider phobia …. so please forgive me – I can’t bring myself to ‘Like’ your blog … nothing personal you understand ….. aaargh

    August 7, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    • I understand your reservations Eileen – many people have the same fear! But you will see many insects, flowers and some nice scenery around my blog as well – so I hope you will come back!

      August 7, 2012 at 2:54 pm

  9. Ha ha – as long as the spider ones come with a health warning so that I can avoid them !
    many blessings Eileen

    August 8, 2012 at 12:26 pm

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