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!


Program Change For April Nature @ Noontime Program

A change has been made for the program for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s April Nature @ Noontime program. The new program will be presented on Native Bees: The Unknown Soldiers . It will be held on Thursday, at noon in the TWRA’s Region II Ray Bell Building located in the Ellington Agriculture Complex. Polly Rooker, of TWRA Region II will be presenter. There are ... (click for more)

TWRA To Be Part Of Nature Fest

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will again be part of the Nature Fest held on  Tuesday, April 16 through Friday, April 19  at Pennebaker Hall on the Tennessee Tech University campus. The event highlights the wonderful, natural diversity found on the Cumberland Plateau through lectures, hikes and hands-on activities. The event is free and great for families.  ... (click for more)

Tennessee Broadband Expansion Bill Sought By EPB Put On Hold For Now

Advocates for broadband expansion in Tennessee, including Chattanooga's EPB, announced Tuesday that efforts to extend community-based fiber optic networks are being placed on hold for now "because there is not enough support among state lawmakers to change a state regulation that prevents the expansion of municipal fiber optic systems." EPB earlier won a ruling from the Federal ... (click for more)

Haslam Adds K-12 Funds In Budget Amendment

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam on Tuesday unveiled additions to the FY 2015-2016 budget that will be considered by the General Assembly in the coming weeks, including added funding for K-12. The governor last week met with school superintendents from the largest systems in the state over the issue of state funding for K-12. The next day, the Hamilton County Schools joined ... (click for more)

Physicians Thank Their Patients On Doctor’s Day

March 30 has been set aside as National Doctors’ Day since 1933 as a time to recognize the contributions made by our physicians. While the recognition is appreciated, our greatest satisfaction comes from caring for our patients.  For 132 years, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society has been the physicians’ voice as we worked together to improve health of our community. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Look At My April Garden

On this April Fool’s Day, as I take my monthly stroll through my virtual garden, there are gorgeous flowers and there are weeds, which appear to be trying harder than the flowers. So let’s see what we find before searching for “The Prize Egg” on Sunday. A FLOWER to the New York cab driver who told a young writer, “Always remember that everyone you meet knows something that you ... (click for more)