name 'Daddy-Long-Legs' has been used for at least two different kinds of
arachnids - spiders (Pholcus phalangioides) and harvestmen
The animal which most biologists call "daddy-long-legs", is a spider,
Pholcus phalangioides, which belongs to the spider family Pholcidae, order
Araneida, class Arachnida. The CSIRO handbook follows this usage: Naumann,
Ian 1993. CSIRO Handbook of Australian Insect Names: common and scientific
names for insects and allied organisms of economic and environmental
Pholcid spiders are araneomorph spiders which kill and digest their prey
using venom. However
there is no scientific basis for the urban myth that daddy-long-legs are the
most venomous, poisonous or toxic spiders in the world. Their venom has
never been tested and certainly not on humans!!
Daddy-long-legs spiders have venom glands and fangs but their tiny
fangs are fused at the base (uncate) however brown recluse spiders fangs are
also uncate and they can certainly bite humans! As far as Dr Mike Gray (senior arachnologist
at the Australian Museum) knows, there is no evidence in the scientific
literature to suggest that the venom of daddy-long-legs could harm humans.
There is also not much scientific evidence to suggest whether or not they
can bite humans, this seems to be part of the myth as well!!
However daddy-long-legs kill and eat other spiders, including Redback
Spiders whose venom CAN be fatal to humans. Perhaps this is the origin of
the rumour that daddy-long-legs are the most venomous spiders in the world.
It might be argued that if they can kill a deadly spider, they must be even
more deadly themselves, but daddy-long-legs only need to be quicker to bite,
not more venomous.
For more info check out these sites:
(Would like to know if this guy is referring to me!! hope not!!)
Here's some photos sent in by David.
"Hey I've visited your site a lot and used to be very scared of
spiders but now its almost like I've got used to them as we get a lot in
this house. I find them fascinating and the other day I noticed a daddy
long legs was sitting in my wardrobe with some eggs in its mouth. This
morning I looked and they had all hatched! Will the mother stay with
them for long like that or will they eventually just wander off? They
just sit there for ages, I haven't seen them move, well until i gently
blew the web! Anyway the main reason I sent the email was to show you
this cool photo I took of another daddy long legs from the living room.
It seems to have another spider in its jaw and I'm quite pleased with
how the photo came out. At the highest res the detail is great!
How would it eat that spider? its almost bigger than the daddy long
legs, would it last a few days? Oh and another question. I notice the
spider has only 7 legs and their was one with just 6 a while ago. Do
they grow back?? Thanks for the great website. I love checking the
photos and identifying spiders with the help of it. For example I found
a crab spider the other day and before i looked on your site i didn't
know what the hell it was! I've learnt so much about spiders since
visiting your site and its really helped me over come my fear!
Sorry for all the questions! Mainly wanted to show you the photo's!
Click photo on left for larger view.
Here's some photos of a daddy-long-legs and some babies sent in by
"Iíve been watching the ones on the ceiling of my garage for a few weeks, as
they tend their eggs. Here are a few photos that might entertain you.
Thanks again, Dave Hood"
"Here's a follow-up from this morning.
You'll notice in the photo on the left, that the mother still has a
loose white ball of fluff. I had assumed that the babies ate the eggs as
part of hatching, and thought the ball of fluff might be remnants of the
eggs. In the photo on the right, you'll see what the ball of fluff
really is: the remnants of baby spiders that didn't escape from the
communal ball soon enough! With cannibalistic siblings, you really
wouldn't want to hatch out in the middle of that ball! Red in tooth and
claw, she is, nature!
Here's an email that
seems to confirm that Daddy Long Legs can indeed bite. Anyone who
has any comments please email.
My son was just bitten by a spider and he described it as
a daddy long legs. I've been on the net getting photos up to confirm.
Years ago I was bitten by a daddy long legs myself, after my mum said
'Don't worry they can't bite'. I watched it lower its body and then bite
Bang went my faith in my mother's advice.
My son has just confirmed it was also a daddy long legs that bit him.
The bribe of a chocolate frog cut through the spurious info.
His wrist has come up hot and swollen. The points of bite are
blisters and his hand has just started to swell. Fairly evenly coloured
rashes have developed on parts of his lower arm. The swelling was so
that the child-care worker thought his arm was broken.
He has seen a doctor. He asked if it was snake bite because the points
bite were similar to snake bite. The spider had been on Joel's hand
him, getting his attention and while biting a second time was removed by
son (to get the pointy bit out of him). A strange cluster of small
has developed to the side of the major bite points. There is also a
yellowish colouring developing (like a bruise). He has no obvious
ill-effects apart from the swelling and pain at the site. No tummy
headache, nothing else and the bite happened just over 24 hours ago.
He was advised to take Claratyne (antihistamine). It has provide some
But Joel's body is still coping with the poison.
Just as it's a fallacy that they are THE most poisonous, it is also
obviously a fallacy that they do not/cannot bite.
It's Day Five. Bitten Friday, it's now Tuesday.
He had two doses of 24 hour strength antihistamine The spreading
patches of red have gone, his hand and wrist are still slightly
puffy. The two bite sites (main pustules) are still just as high as
Day Seven: The swelling has completely gone. The bite points are
drying (like scabs) But there is a very pale patch (almost
white) immediately around the bites with a slight shadow
further out extending over an area of maybe three inches,
grubby, like he's recovering from a bruise. I can get a dark
colouration in the skin (in the later stages) where a bruise
is healing, genetically peculiar to me. I observe Joel with
interest. He's complaining if it being itchy (nearly a week
after). We had a hot day today (33 degrees). I've put Savlon
(antiseptic cream) on it and most lately Stop Itch (anti-itch
cream for mosquito bites). Heat exacerbates any itch I might
have, so I empathise. Another hot day forecasted tomorrow.
they are wide. He doesn't complain of pain but does say it's itchy
sometimes. Joel is not quite five years old. Still no horrific
side-effects but am unsure about what to do
about the pockets of fluid where he was bitten. Taking him back to
doctor for advice.
Have seen/read horror stories about progressive spider bites. Very
grateful for the internet. Without it I'd not have been able to show
my son pictures of spiders to get confirmation of what bit him. I'll
let you know what happens. Thank you for your web page.
Pictures of Pholcus phalangioides kindly sent by
The other eight-legged invertebrates
which are sometimes called "daddy-long-legs", are members of the order
Opiliones or Opilionida in the class Arachnida. Biologists generally call
these animals 'harvestmen' (e.g. the CSIRO Handbook (ed. Ian Naumann) cited
Unlike spiders, their bodies do not have a 'waist' and they do not
produce silk; they normally have only one pair of eyes. They do not have
venom glands or fangs, although they
produce noxious defence secretions. Most harvestmen eat smaller
invertebrates but some eat plant material and others feed on carcasses of
dead mammals and birds.
For more information and pictures of Opiliones, try
Nieuwenhuys' page. Pictures of Opiliones with thanks, from Ed's page.
Information provided with thanks by Elizabeth Cameron Information
Officer, Australian Museum's Information and Resource Centre after several
queries about Daddy Long Legs being the most venomous spider in the world.
Photo below from Bret.
and pictures were taken from children's projects and where credited to that
child does not claim to be original information. Where possible, permission
to reproduce has been sought. Any infringement of copyright is purely
Click here to
return to the Other Spider's Home Page