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!


Chattanooga City Council Joins Together To Call For Climate Action

The Chattanooga City Council released the following statement joining Thursday's National Day of Action working to support the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan and the first ever federal limits on dangerous carbon pollution expected to be released next week. In anticipation of these landmark public health and clean air safeguards, the Chattanooga City ... (click for more)

Daines, Alexander Pleased With Proposed Rule To Regulate Ivory

Senators Steve Daines and Lamar Alexander made the following statements on Wednesday, in agreement, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposed rule to regulate domestic ivory trade: “I’m pleased that the proposed rule from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service more clearly focuses on addressing the real threat of poachers and those who are violating our laws,” Senator ... (click for more)

Dodd Arrested After 2 Bank Robberies In 3 Days

Chattanooga Police have arrested 32-year-old Christopher Joseph Dodd in connection with two local bank robberies in three days.          The First TN Bank at 4430 Highway 58 was robbed on Monday at approximately 11:30 a.m.          The Cohutta Bank at 5613 Highway 153 was robbed ... (click for more)

Corker Calls Highway Bill "Very Worst Of Washington"; Alexander Supports It

Senator Bob Corker on Thursday called the Senate highway bill "the very worst of Washington," while Senator Lamar Alexander supported it.   Senator Corker, who voted against the bill, said, "The legislation uses 10 years of budget gimmicks and questionable policy changes to pay for only three years of spending.   “The Highway Trust Fund ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Strong

The hearts, minds and prayers of Tennesseans, and of the entire nation, have been turned toward Chattanooga this month.  We are sickened and saddened by the senseless tragedy, and we grieve for the families of the five service members who were killed, Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan, Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist, Lance Cpl. Squire “Skip” K. Wells, Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Dr. Palmer, You’re Toast

America is absolutely furious! By 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon there were 36,000 people who had petitioned the White House to extradite Walter Palmer, who is today the most despised man in all of North America. On the Yelp.com website, that promotes his dentistry business in Eden Prairie, Minn, over 6,000 had posted violent, vulgar and vicious notes and, for the record, 60 of them ... (click for more)