I feel so guilty!!!
I have always had an affinity with certain spiders, for example The Wall Spider and The Daddy Long Legs. All other spiders are frowned upon in our house but there is a certain benevolence towards our Wall Spiders - Harry and Harriet, and the Daddy Long Legs that festoon quiet, still places.
Then someone mentioned that the dreaded Violin Spider (sometimes called the Brown Recluse) looks just like the Daddy Long Legs!!
EEEEK, without my specs, and with this bit of information, out came the Doom Spray and every Daddy Long Legs was obliterated instantaneously!!
However I was totally wrong and this is why I feel so guilty!! The Violin Spider looks absolutely nothing like the poor little innocent Daddy Long Legs....
Then on further research I came up with some interesting facts about this spindly creature.
First and foremost they are actually not spiders! Yes, they're arachnids, but they're actually more closely related to scorpions than they are to spiders.
Secondly THEY'RE NOT VENOMOUS.
That thing you heard from Aunty Doris about daddy longlegs being the most poisonous creature in the world, but with fangs too weak to bite you Not true. They don't even have fangs, and they can't make venom, either.
Thirdly they are very very old
We know from a very well preserved fossil of a daddy longlegs from Scotland that they are at least 400 million years old,
Fourthly - they are all over the world.
These arachnids can be found on every continent but Antarctica. They're usually found in humid areas, such as under rocks, in leaf litter, and inside caves. They also come in many different varieties There might be as many as 10,000 species of daddy longlegs.
Number six they hang out in big clumps.
Have you seen the 'Vine', where a guy pokes what appears to be a huge tangle of hair and-surprise!-a bunch of daddy longlegs spring forth and run at the camera.
This clumping is pretty typical daddy longleg behavior, and though scientists don't know for sure why they do this, they do have some ideas. Perhaps they do this when conditions become dry and they need to maintain high humidity. Perhaps they are 'herding' to lower their individual chances of being eaten. Or perhaps they are trying to bolster their chemical defenses.
You would think that creatures with legs like these arachnids have would move around quite a bit, but that's not the case. DNA sequencing populations of long-legged species near the coast of Brazil revealed that they do not get around at all. They don't go anywhere.
Their day is something like this: They're in a crevice until about 7 o'clock, when they come walking out and they sit on a leaf all night long. And then when the sun starts to come up, they'll walk back to the crevice. Those long legs are apparently all for male-male competition, or showing off to females, because they don't use them.'
They also have interesting ways to deal with predators.
Birds, frogs, and lizards frequently make meals of daddy longlegs. The arachnids have a few strategies for not becoming lunch, their most obvious feature to avoid predation is to produce chemical excretions from glands on their bodies, which have been observed to repulse predators. Daddy longlegs are usually extremely well camouflaged. During the day many of them hide in crevasses, and when disturbed they usually curl up and remain motionless for several minutes. Yes, they play dead-which works extraordinarily well for a couple of reasons.
They also clean up and many species do something called leg threading: They slide one leg at a time through the little pincers by their mouths, other species may groom themselves in other ways, but in general this behavior is very important to keep parasites off the body.
In addition they can live for a very long time,the bigger species, tend to live for less than two years, but the tiny species he's currently studying can probably live for up to seven years
Finally - their legs do not grow back. If you were one of those kids who plucked off one of these creatures' legs, prepare to feel a little guilty: Those things do not grow back.
So next time you see a little family of Daddy Long Legs - leave them be, they too have their place in life's pecking order....