Daddy Long Legs: Most poisonous spider? Yeah, right…

26 Jul

Have you ever heard this?

“Daddy Long Legs are the most poisonous spiders, but they can’t hurt you because their mouths are too tiny to bite you.”

opiliones

If you have, you need to read the rest of this post to be able to combat this kind of ignorance, because that statement is so false it’s ridiculous.

Here’s why:

  • Daddy Long Legs aren’t spiders. They belong to the Order Opiliones, in the Class Arachnida, and are more closely related to scorpions (Order Scorpionida) than spiders (Order Araneae).

Arachnida

They don’t even look like spiders…

harvestman_opiliones

You can see how the cellar spider on the left has two parts to its body (cephalothorax and abdomen), while the daddy long legs on the right has a single body segment. (the cephalothorax and abdomen have been broadly fused)

  • Daddy Long Legs don’t have fangs. Even if they had fangs, their size wouldn’t matter. Extremely small needles can still pierce skin, and that’s what fangs are: hypodermic needles.
  • Daddy Long Legs don’t produce poison or venom. Even if they did, they don’t have the equipment to deliver venom.
  • Maybe they’re talking about the Daddy Long Leg spider? (cellar spiders, grandaddy long leg spider, etc.) Nope. This spider is definitely not the most venomous spider. They do have really small fangs, but that doesn’t prevent them from biting.

cellar spider_2

Anybody know how this myth started? I’m stumped…

Note: The terms, venomous and poisonous are not synonymous. The term, “venomous”, means the organism produces toxins that it delivers to prey. Venom is usually a sign of a predator. The term, “poisonous”, means the organism produces toxins that it doesn’t actively deliver to another organism. (ex: most frogs are poisonous) Poison is a defense mechanism.

Also, Daddy Long Legs do possess chelicerae (modified appendages usually associated with feeding), but they don’t have fangs on them. Fangs and chelicerae are not the same thing.

opiliones_1

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