Let’s begin with nomenclature. Initially, daddy-longlegs is a moniker utilized to no less than three totally different sorts of arthropods. Based on spider skilled Dr. Rick Vetter, daddy-longlegs refers to long-legged spiders within the household Pholcidae, a wholly totally different arachnid referred to as an opilionid (a.ok.a. harvestmen), and a primitive fly referred to as a crane fly. We met pholicids rocking out in corners of a room in a earlier episode. Crane flies are generally misidentified as large mosquitoes and have appeared in Bug of the Week as effectively. However let’s speak about harvestmen, opilionids. The enterprise of harvestmen being dangerously venomous is inaccurate on two accounts. Firstly is the truth that they lack venom glands. No venom glands, no venom. Their arachnid kinfolk, spiders, together with pholcid spiders, subdue prey with potent venom delivered through fangs. Harvestmen lack fangs so the enterprise of tiny fangs can also be out the window. Harvestmen feed totally on decaying vegetation or animals, however they might even be opportunistic predators. I’ve seen them snacking on hapless cicadas that did not efficiently shed their nymphal pores and skin. Harvestmen are sometimes seen in moist woodlands on vegetation, stumps, or leaf-litter the place they seek for meals and mates. Harvestmen are simply distinguished from their spider kinfolk. As an alternative of the 2 simply seen physique areas (cephalothorax and stomach) attribute of spiders, the excellence between physique segments is vague and harvestmen seem to have a single pill-shaped physique. If you wish to get shut sufficient to look them within the eye, harvestmen have at most two eyes whereas spiders might have as many as eight.
Regardless of their lack of fangs and venom, opilionids possess intelligent tips to assist them keep away from being eaten by floor dwelling predators. Specialised glands alongside the margin of the harvestmen launch noxious quinones which are combined with fluids regurgitated from the digestive tract on the harvestmen. The harvestmen smear the pungent concoction alongside its margins, forming a chemically deterrent barrier round its perimeter. This chemical protection has been proven to discourage ants, spiders, and frogs and to make nosy bug geeks want they hadn’t messed round with an opilionid.