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 FLORIDA SPIDERS
A source for information on spiders

Daddy Long Legs Spiders  Family Pholcidae

Daddy long legs spiders are the common house spiders, that can be easily distinguished by their exceptionally long legs, as compared to the body size. They got the name daddy long legs, due to their resemblance to the daddy long legs or crane flies. Daddy long legs spiders are also known as vibrating spider, house spider, cellar spider or daddy long-legger. In scientific terms, they are called, Pholcus phalangioides and belong to the family of Pholcidae.

In addition to crane flies, another species that is often referred as daddy long legs is the long-legged harvestmen. Harvestmen are arachnids, and they can be distinguished from the daddy long legs spider by the structure of their body. They have only one body section, i.e. their abdomen and cepahothorax are fused together to form one structure, while both the head or thorax region and the abdomen are two distinct parts in the daddy long legs spiders. Here are some other interesting daddy long legs spider facts.

Daddy Long Legs Spider Facts

Physical Appearance of Daddy Long Legs Spider:
Like other spiders, the body of the daddy long legs spiders can be divided into two parts, i.e., cephalothorax and abdomen. Daddy Long Legs spiders are gray to light brown in color. They have a rectangular, elongated abdomen and four pairs of long, slender legs that may be up to 30 times as long as its body, causing them to appear much larger than they actually are. The main body is usually 2 to 10 mm long, while the legs can be up to 50 mm in length. In total, there are eight legs, that remain attached to the cephalothorax region. Generally, they have eight eyes; six eyes are arranged in two lateral groups of three closely clustered eyes, while the rest of the two are very small median eyes. Some species of daddy long legs spiders however, contain only six eyes, which are arranged in two groups of three clustered eyes, with no median eyes. The abdomen is cylindrical and spiders are either gray in color, or can be found with brown stripes or chevron marking on the ventral side of their body.


Behavior:
Adults tend to hide during the day and become active at night when they search for food such as plant juices, dead and sometimes living insects. When they move the second pair of legs, the longest, touch the surface in search of food. If something edible is found, it begins a teetering motion and tilts its body forward ands grabs its prey.

When a daddy long legs web is disturbed or when large prey gets entangled in their web, it vibrates rapidly in a gyrating motion, becoming blurred and making it difficult for a predator to see where the spider is. It is also helpful for capturing insects that have brushed their web and may still be nearby. Because of this behavior it is sometimes referred to as a “vibrating spider”.


Daddy Long Legs Spider Habitat:
Daddy long legs spiders can be found throughout the world in dark and damp places. They can be easily found to hang inverted from their webs, in places like, caves, rocks, buildings and cellars. Such areas are usually not disturbed, and hence, ideal for the daddy long legs spiders to weave or make their webs. However, they can also survive in dry and warm places like deserts. Daddy long legs spiders hang inverted in messy, irregular, tangled webs. These webs are constructed in dark and damp recesses, in caves, under rocks and loose bark, abandoned rodent burrows, and undisturbed areas in buildings and cellars, hence the common name "cellar spiders".

Certain species of daddy long legs invade webs of other spiders and eat the host, eggs, or prey. In some cases the spider vibrates the web of other spiders, mimicking the feel of struggling prey, to lure the web’s host out in the open. They are known to attack and eat Redback and Huntsman spiders.

 
Daddy Long Legs Spider Diet:
Daddy long legs spiders consume almost every insects like, mosquitoes, flies, beetles and even other spiders. They have venom glands as well as fangs, and they use their venom to kill and digest their prey. They usually invade the webs of other spider species like, Tegenaria, redback spiders and wolf spiders to eat the trapped prey, or the host itself. They can also eat other daddy long legs spiders.

In many instances, daddy long legs spider vibrate the webs of other spiders. This is a trick employed by the daddy long legs spider to draw the host of the web closer, so that it can attack and kill the host. Daddy long legs spiders usually throw stiff and rigid web material on its prey to restrict its movements, and then envelops it completely with silk or web. Subsequently, they bite the softer part of the body of the prey to inject digestive juices into it. The prey is either consumed immediately or a part of it is left behind or stored for later.

Daddy Long Legs Spider Life Cycle:
Daddy long legs spiders reach the age of reproduction in one year. The male lives for one year and dies after copulating, while the female lives for about 3 years. During copulation, the male deposits its palps, containing the sperms, in the female vulva. The fertilized eggs are held together with a few strand of silk, and the female carries the agglutinated mass of eggs between her jaw, or the pair of fang like appendages, which are called chelicerae. It takes about 2 to 30 week for hatching, and the young spider lings are also carried by their mothers in between her jaw. The spider lings then go through a series of molts, where they shed their skin. After several molting, they finally reach adulthood, usually in summer.

Daddy long legs spiders are known to be one of the most poisonous or venomous spiders of the world. However, daddy long legs spider poison has not been tested on humans. Besides, their fangs are too small to bite or puncture the human skin, for which they are not considered dangerous for humans. Another interesting fact about this spider is that, it vibrates itself and become blurred, whenever it feels threatened. This is the reason why it is termed as vibrating spider.

Interesting Fact:
If the daddy long-legs is in danger of being caught, it can break off a portion of its legs and then escape while the detached legs continue to quiver in front of a confounded predator. Daddy long-legs can grow new legs to replace the broken ones. Also, it should be noted that the name “daddy long legs” is also applied to two distantly related arthropod groups: harvestmen-which are arachnids and not spiders-and crane flies, which are insects.

Control:
These spiders are harmless to man as their jaws are unable to penetrate human skin, and the venom dose is also too minute. Their venom is neurotoxic but is only deadly to its prey. They are sometimes left alone in the home as they control various insect pests such as mosquitoes, flies, ants and moths.

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