May 30, 2024

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Refuge Notebook: Daddy longlegs of home, garden and mountains

4 min read
Refuge Notebook: Daddy longlegs of home, garden and mountains

Editor’s notice: This report was initially posted in 2005. It is republished with some updates.

Fall is the time of yr when, like them or not, we have to offer with daddy longlegs. As the climate cools, they appear to be to magically materialize around and in our properties, in some cases in alarming numbers.

They can be a nuisance in this way, but no matter if or not the offending animals must be promptly squished, disregarded or gently transferred back again to the back garden should be considered.

The title daddy longlegs is in some cases utilised for crane flies or some very long-legged spiders, but below I am referring to the familiar spindly-legged arthropods of the order Opiliones. These are not spiders, but like spiders, mites and scorpions, they have 8 legs and they are arachnids.

Spiders and daddy longlegs can simply be distinguished by the shapes of their bodies — the body of a spider is divided into two major components separated by a slim constriction the entire body of a daddy longlegs seems to be a single broadly oval aspect. Ladies, primarily when total of eggs, are stouter than the smaller-bodied, longer-legged males.

Daddy longlegs have neither fangs nor venom, so they simply cannot chunk persons. As a substitute, they have little pincers that they use for grabbing and reducing up their food stuff. These are significantly way too modest to be harmful to people, at the very least in our Alaska species of daddy longlegs.

Most daddy longlegs are generalist scavengers and predators, eager to take in just about any type of minute animal. Some also take in modest amounts of vegetable make a difference. Most of them conceal by day and prowl about at night. They repel probable predators by exuding foul-smelling, distasteful secretions from their scent glands.

We have several varieties of daddy longlegs on the Kenai, every with diverse behavior. The daddy longlegs most generally observed by persons is Phalangium opilio. This is the massive, mottled grey to brownish selection that is usually considerable in gardens, driveways and yards. They are often lively out in the open all through the working day.

Like the cockroach, the residence fly and the silverfish, Phalangium is linked with humans in a lot of sections of the world. It is native to the Outdated Globe and is almost certainly introduced in Alaska. It is not a pest, while.

In the backyard garden, it is a helpful animal, having a lot of small, soft-bodied pests which include aphids, caterpillars, grubs and slugs.

Mitopus morio is a native daddy longlegs related to Phalangium. In our location it would seem to want to hunt and scavenge in wetlands relatively than all-around properties.

Nelima paessleri is the daddy longlegs that can get in the thousands in crawl spaces, basements and nicely homes. They are mostly burgundy to red-brown with banded legs. Nelima is discovered in a lot of the boreal forest, the place they dwell secretive lives till the slide, when they request out heat, moist nooks to commit the wintertime.

No 1 is aware of for certain, nevertheless, why daddy longlegs obtain into dense aggregations. The most most likely cause is a basic principle termed amplification, wherever a sign will become more potent or “louder” by concentration.

In this case, the odor provided off by a solitary Nelima when disturbed could not be specially noticeable and may not prevent a hungry predator, but the stench specified off by a mass of a thousand upset daddy longlegs could not be disregarded and would repel all but the most determined of predators.

In rocky spots, in the mountains and on seashores, Leptobunus borealis can be observed by day in rock outcrops and underneath driftwood, stones and particles. They hunt at night. They are compact, mottled gray, rather limited-legged daddy longlegs.

Most likely the most intriguing daddy longlegs in our place is Sabacon occidentalis, a sensitive, spiny predator with a special way to capture its prey. Its lanky pedipalps (the appendages which are formed like pincers in scorpions) are lined in sticky spines. Sabacon whips out its sticky pedipalps to capture springtails, its preferred prey.

The household versions of daddy longlegs are abundant on the Kenai, so squishing a number of need to not hurt any inhabitants. It is wiser, although, to let them are living outside the house the house and devour pests.

A daddy extended-legs found in the house may well be caught by herding it into a butter dish or only selecting it up, then releasing it in the backyard garden. A mass of Nelima previously in the crawl place may perhaps be left by itself so that they can exit in the spring. Entrance of daddy longlegs into the property is best prevented by a effectively sealed framework.

Matt Bowser serves as a Fish and Wildlife Biologist at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. This article appeared at first in the Refuge Notebook of Oct 14, 2005. To come across a lot more Refuge Notebook Posts go to or uncover us on Facebook

Sabocon occidentalis captures springtails using its sticky pedipalps. (Photo by Matt Bowser/USFWS)

Sabocon occidentalis captures springtails using its sticky pedipalps. (Photograph by Matt Bowser/USFWS)

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