The Truth About Granddaddy Longlegs

Monday, June 23, 2008 - by Kyle Waggener, Chattanooga Nature Center

Are Granddaddy-longlegs the most poisonous spider in the world but their fangs are too small to bite us?

Actually, granddaddy-longlegs are not spiders. They are a type of arachnid, along with spiders, ticks, mites, and scorpions but they belong to a group called harvestmen not spiders. Also they are usually called “daddy-long-legs” in field guides not “granddaddy-longlegs” and are more appropriately called harvestmen.

There are several differences between harvestmen and spiders. Spiders have two body parts, a cephalothorax (head and thorax fused together) and abdomen. Harvestmen have one body part similar to ticks and mites. The cephalothorax and abdomen are fused together so harvestmen lack the narrow “waist” that spiders have.

Harvestmen have two eyes. Nearly all spiders have eight. Harvestmen don’t have silk glands or spinnerets so they can’t spin a web like most spiders do. If you see a harvestmen in a web, it is soon to be a meal for a spider.

Harvestmen do not have venom glands or fangs, which all spiders have.

Spiders feed on live animals that they paralyze or kill with their venomous fangs.

Harvestmen eat decomposing plant and animal matter mostly, with an occasional slow-moving insect as part of their diet.

It is more correct to use the term venomous than poisonous to refer to spiders. Poison is ingested and venom is injected. In poisonous animals, toxic chemicals are stored in the body tissues and are used as a defense to prevent the animal from being eaten. Venom is usually used as a means to obtain prey, with the venomous animal injecting the toxic chemicals into the body of another animal. So spiders are venomous not poisonous. Predators can eat spiders, even brown recluse spiders, without ill effects.

So, even though “daddy-long-legs” aren’t the most “poisonous” arachnid in the world, they are still a very valuable part of the ecosystem. Maybe now more people can enjoy letting one crawl around on their hand without any fear of venomous fangs. If you really think about it, half of them are really “mommy-long-legs” anyway!


Blitz At Black Rock Mountain Will Boost Understanding Of Bats

The night life around Black Rock Mountain State Park will keep researchers from across the state busy Sept. 4-7. It is all part of the Georgia Bat Working Group’s first Bat Blitz. The event based at the park in northeast Georgia’s Rabun County is focused on better understanding the area’s bat communities. But there is an even bigger picture. Organizer Trina Morris ... (click for more)

Drones Banned From Appalachian Trail

The National Park Service has developed an interim policy prohibiting the use of unmanned aircraft on NPS managed lands of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. This is a new park use that could affect park resources, staff, and visitors in ways that the National Park Service has yet to identify, analyze and examine. It is the National Park Service policy to not allow a new park ... (click for more)

Jury Finds In Favor Of Texas Sheriff In Suit Brought By Chattanooga Photographer

A Federal Court jury on Friday found in favor of a Texas sheriff and his chief deputy who had been sued by a Chattanooga photographer. The jury in the courtroom of Judge Curtis Collier awarded no damages to Donna Johnson. In his closing argument after a two-week civil trial, attorney John Anderson said, "This is about the Fourth Amendment." Attorney Anderson represented Ms. ... (click for more)

Justin Wilkins Selected As Deputy Chief Of Staff For Mayor Berke

Native Chattanoogan Justin Wilkins will serve as Mayor Andy Berke's deputy chief of staff, it was announced Friday. Mr. Wilkins has spent the last several years serving as the Tennessee state director for multiple advocacy and electoral organizations, including Organizing for America and Organizing for Action. Prior to that, he worked as project manager at Profit Plans LLC ... (click for more)

Mackey Should Be Thankful For The State Troopers On Highway 153

This is in response to a statement made by Warren Mackey at the commission meeting.  His question was to the mayor regarding the state troopers writing tickets on Highway 153, saying they were on a rampage.   It is apparent that Mr. Mackey doesn’t travel this highway.  His only concern was that the ticket money was going into state funds and not into county funds. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Must-Read For Parents

If you have a child or if you love one, what you are about to read could be one of the most important lessons in your life. I have a great friend in Dallas – Sandy Pohfal – who regularly shares stories with me that are moving, inspirational or important. This is all three. This story was written by a celebrated author, Christie Craig. She has written hundreds of articles for ... (click for more)