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Daddy long legs/Harvestmen

What are daddy long legs/harvestmen?

Harvestmen and daddy long legs refer to the same species, and although they are commonly referred to as spiders, they are in fact not spiders and are not even insects either.  Daddy long legs or harvestmen are part of the family Phalangiidae and lack venom glands and do not have the ability to spin silken webs.  Daddy long legs are omnivores and feed on a variety of organic materials, feces, carcasses, aphids, and other small insects.

What do daddy long legs/harvestmen look like?

Daddy long legs or harvestmen have a one segmented body that is oval in shape, it is very difficult to determine where their head ends and their body begins.  They have eight long “wiggly” legs; the second pair of legs is longer than the rest and are used to sense smell and taste.  They have two eyes but have very poor vision and instead rely on their second pair of legs to “sense” direction.  They have small fang-like mouthparts that they use to hold their prey as they eat.

Why do I have a daddy long legs/harvestmen problem?

Daddy long legs or harvestmen can be seen gathering in large numbers in the fall around harvest time.  They can be found hiding on trees, under rocks, logs, and leaf piles.  If the weather becomes too hot or dry they will often move inside of homes in order to seek shelter in areas with higher humidity levelInside of a home, they can be found hiding during the day in secluded dark places like basements, attics, crawl spaces, and bathrooms.  They are usually inactive during the day and will come out at night to forage for food.

Are daddy long legs/harvestmen dangerous?

No, daddy long legs/harvestmen are not dangerous despite the common myth that is associated with them.  The myth states that daddy long legs are actually one of the most venomous species found, but that their fangs are just too small to penetrate a human.  Since daddy long legs do not even produce venom we can all sleep soundly knowing that they are simply a nuisance pest.

Daddy long legs are seen as a beneficial predator since they eat a variety of small nuisance insects and feeding on feces and carcasses helps to clean up the environment.

How do daddy long legs/harvestmen defend themselves?

Even though this species does not produce venom, they can very effectively defend themselves in a few ways.  If they feel threatened or are disturbed they will emit a strange smelling odor that will repel potential predators.  They are also known to play dead like an opossum might.  And finally they may “lose” a leg during an attack and the leg will continue to wiggle which distracts the predator long enough for them to make an escape.

How can I prevent a daddy long legs/harvestmen infestation?

The best way to help prevent daddy long legs from choosing your home to live in is to reduce moisture levels in and around your home by fixing leaky pipes or fixtures, maintaining gutters, and using de-humidifiers or air-conditioners.  It is also helpful to seal cracks found in your home’s foundation, caulk around windows and doors, and trim back shrubs and bushes away from the outside of your home.

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