Sunday, April 30, 2017

Leggy Bugs--Daddy Longlegs

Previously, I wrote about the crane fly as a leggy buggy. At that time, I made a passing remark about them being called daddy longlegs in the UK. (A humongous crane fly that landed on my door inspired me to photograph and write up about crane flies before writing this daddy longlegs article.)

Did you know that daddy longlegs can be three types of very long-legged bugs? "Why Are They Called Daddy Longlegs?" explains.
That name is often used to describe several different creatures. For example, it may be used to describe the long-legged crane fly, which is an insect, or long-legged cellar spiders, which are true spiders. Mostly, though, daddy longlegs is used to refer to Opiliones, which are an order of arachnids also known as harvestmen. … Harvestmen have one body section and two eyes, while most spiders have two body sections and eight eyes.

The following table lists some very basic differences among them.
large crane fly cellar spider harvestman
# legs
6
8
8
wings?
y
n
n
# eyes
2
8
2
silk/web spinner?
n
y
n
body sections
head, thorax, abcomen head/thorax (cephalothorax), abdomen single section

View my pixstrip for rudimentary drawings of the bugs; the text indicates very abbreviated animal hierarchy.

"Who's the daddy? Are daddy longlegs actually spiders? Are they poisonous and how do you get rid of them?" has a few good passages that describe these bugs.
While the common English insect commonly referred to as a daddy long-legs is in fact NOT a spider, there is actually also a type of spider that is sometimes also referred to as a daddy long-legs and another type of arachnid that is also known as a daddy long-legs.

Brits generally use the word daddy long-legs to refer to craneflies – long-legged winged insects which are not spiders.
The article has sections for bird's eye views (grin) about comparing and contrasting the three bugs:
  • What are the differences between craneflies and spiders?
  • What are the similarities between harvestmen and spiders?
  • What are the differences between harvestmen and spiders?
"Daddy Longlegs: Spiders & Other Critters" provides good overview differentiations also, including the following topics:
  • Harvestmen & crane flies
  • Cellar spiders
  • Taxonomy/classification for cellar spiders, harvestmen, and crane flies
Visit BugGuide's three sites for these leggy bugs, which include tabs for taxonomy, general information, images, and US map of states indicating habitat (Data).
More resources:

Leggy Bugs articles:

2 comments:

Woody Lemcke said...

Very interesting! Thanks Wanda! I wish you had written the biology texts we used in school. It would be nice to be a field biologist but only in the comfortable environments.

whilldtkwriter said...

Thanks, Woody! I wasn't much good in biology--didn't like the ick factors w/animal tissue & formaldehyde for dissection days. Also, subject matter is a lot more fun if not needing plow into it for grades.

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