Daddy long legs are one of the strange creatures in the world. Their unique appearance has both fascinated and frightened people throughout the years. Like any feared creature, they have many misconceptions surrounding them. Explore the wonderful world of the daddy long legs as we separate myth from fact.
Daddy long legs are arachnids, but they aren’t spiders. In fact, this unusual creature is more closely related to the scorpion than the spider. Not convinced? Consider this – daddy long legs:
- Have a pill-shaped body, instead of jointed sections like spiders.
- Don’t produce silk or spin webs.
- Have two eyes, unlike the eight of a spider.
This type of arachnid belongs to the Opiliones order. They have a head, thorax, and abdomen that seem to be connected. Despite how they appear, they do have two fused body parts. However, a spider has a much more distinct separation between their sections.
To Poison or Not to Poison
You may have heard that daddy long legs are venomous. Perhaps you’ve heard they are the “most poisonous spider in the world,” but their fangs are too weak to bite a human. This is pure myth. For starters, they are not a spider. Additionally, they don’t have venom glands. So when you run into one in your garden, there’s no reason to be alarmed.
Daddy long legs do not generally move great distances. It’s important that they have alternative ways of protecting themselves. These creatures can detach one of their legs segments in an attempt to escape from a predator. Once detached, the leg will continue to twitch in an effort to distract the predator long enough to allow for a hasty exit.
The Clumping Factor
No, that’s not a huge clump of hair you’re seeing – it’s actually a tangle of daddy long legs. Scientists aren’t sure why they herd together. Some speculate it may increase the relative humidity around them. Others hypothesize this is a defense mechanism against predators.
Another common myth about daddy long legs is that they can regrow their legs if one falls off in a predatory situation. This isn’t true. They actually have seven sections in their legs that they can break off to distract predators. While these sections won’t grow back, daddy long legs are incredibly adaptable to shorter appendages.
There are myths, legends, and folklore dating back to the 1600’s surrounding this arachnid. English farmers believed these creatures possessed a scythe that assisted them with each harvest. Killing a “harvestman” was thought to be bad luck. Some farmers believed holding a daddy long legs by all but one leg could help point in the direction of their lost cattle. French peasants thought seeing one in the evening, was a sign of fortune, hope, and happiness.
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