The name ‘Daddy-Long-Legs’ has been used for at least two different kinds of arachnids – spiders (Pholcus phalangioides) and harvestmen (Opoliones).
Daddy Long Legs (Pholcus phalangioides)
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.
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.
Click here for more photos of Daddy Long Legs (both types).
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