Fun Harvestman Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Oct 20, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Chandan Shukla
Here are some surprising Harvestman facts.

Harvestman, also known by their common name, daddy longlegs, is a type of arachnid and belongs to the order Opiliones. Their name comes from their long, spidery legs which they can twitch and then break off from their body to survive predatory attacks.

Their other name, harvestman, comes from the fact that they are mainly seen during harvest time, i.e between summer and fall. They are found all across the globe with 6,650 different species of harvestmen currently identified. The only continent where they do not exist is Antarctica.

They are generally found in shaded, moist spaces like under logs, leaves and in damp spaces between buildings. Despite belonging to the spider family, they cannot spin webs. Also, unlike spiders, the harvestman spider eats its food by biting off solid chunks.

Spiders, on the other hand, suck food out of their prey. Harvestmen have very poor vision, and two of their second pair of legs are in the front. The legs are a part of the harvestman's mouth and act as guides or feelers.

They are generally welcome in gardens as they eat other smaller insects and keep pests at bay. It is mistakenly believed that they are poisonous.

However, a daddy longlegs is in no way threatening to humans and animals. They generally live in groups and move together. This might sometimes look like a dark wiggling mass and cause concern to homeowners.

The daddy longlegs can also emit a foul odor to ward off predators, which makes them welcome companions in homes. If you are looking to learn more about such long-legged creatures, check out the six-eyed sand spider and the bold jumping spider.

Harvestman Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a harvestman?

Harvestmen are a type of arachnids related to spiders, though they are very different from the common cellar spider.  

What class of animal does a harvestman belong to?

Daddy long legs belong to the class of Arachnida which also includes scorpions, ticks, mites, and spiders. It belongs to the order Opiliones.

How many harvestmen are there in the world?

There is no estimate as to the total number of daddy long legs around the world.

Where does a harvestman live?

Harvestmen or daddy long legs, who belong to the order Opiliones, are found across the world. Different species might be native to their areas as the daddy longlegs is not a migratory creature. An ideal harvestman habitat would be shaded and moist.

What is a harvestman's habitat?

Daddy long legs are found in dark, moist areas. They generally live in gardens between leaf litter and in damp building spaces. However, some species are also found in the desert. In the US, they are commonly found in limestone caves.  

Who do harvestmen live with?

Harvestmen generally live in large groups consisting of as many as 100 daddy long legs. This group is also tolerant of other species and is found in the wild as well as in homes.

Living in a Harvestman spider cluster allows them to regular temperature and humidity within the cluster. The cluster is also an effective way of warding off predators. Generally, they hunt by trapping prey with their long, front pincer-like claws.

They also use their long legs to suddenly jump down on prey. But mostly, harvestmen eat decaying or dying animals.

How long does a harvestman live?

The average lifespan of the harvestman bug is one year.  In some cases, This group has been observed to live longer lives.

How do they reproduce?

The harvestman reproduces sexually. The male and female of the species generally mate during fall. The males have special secretory structures that help in mating as well as marking territory.

The female lays eggs within the soil using an ovipositor. The ovipositor is a tube-like organ used to lay eggs and is commonly found in most insects.

The parents do not remain to take care of the egg. The eggs hatch in spring. Once hatched, the babies grow in eight different stages, similar to other arthropods, and undergo a molting period.

What is their conservation status?

IUCN classified both the Pholcus madeirensis and the Pholcus silvai as animals of Least Concern. For other species like the Pholcus magnus and Pholcus dentatus, the data available is insufficient. The harvestman spider does not face any threats as such.

Their main predators in the wild include larger insects, scorpions, and amphibians. In the fields, humans are generally tolerant of them though house owners may prefer to remove them via pest control agencies. No conservation efforts are underway.

Harvestman Fun Facts

What do harvestmen look like?

The arachnids harvestmen have small bodies with long, wiry legs. They have a total of four pairs of legs, along with one pair of eyes (unlike spiders, who have eight eyes). Some species are even eyeless. The harvestman anatomy consists of a cephalothorax and the abdomen.

However, the two are fused together so as to appear as a single ovoidal unit. Their daily life includes staying in a clump with regulated temperature and preying on unsuspecting animals. When threatened, they may curl up and become immobile.

How cute are they?

There are thousands of species of arachnids harvestmen and many look glaringly different. The tropical harvestman is a type of spiny harvestman that looks very similar to a cross between a crab and scorpion and is not cute at all.

But one might find the rare bunny harvestman to be extremely cute with its bright yellow color. The bone cave harvestman is also an excellent example of a cute spider-colored bright orange.

How do they communicate?

Harvestmen send out chemical signals to communicate with each other or to raise an alarm.

How big is a harvestman?

The Harvestman arachnid has a small body and long legs. The size of their body ranges from 0.02 to 0.9 in (0.6 to 23 mm). If their leg span is included, then their average size is 6 in. They are the same size as a tarantula or a flying squirrel.

How fast can a harvestman move?

While their long legs mean the harvestman can move very fast - they do not generally. They are lazy creatures who prefer to remain in one place. Even with predators, they have evolved to use alternative methods of safeguarding themselves such a leg detachment and odor emission.

How much does a harvestman weigh?

There is no such information available yet regarding the weight of a single harvestman.

What are their male and female names of the species?

Both males and females are called daddy long legs or harvestmen.

What would you call a baby harvestman?

There is no specific name for the harvestman babies.

What do they eat?

The harvestman diet consists of other smaller insects. This includes ants, beetles, caterpillars, earthworms, mites, snails, and ticks. They are also known to eat fecal matter and fungi.

Are they poisonous?

Since they look like spiders, it is wrongly assumed that they are venomous. However, they are not. This group does not possess any venom glands or silk glands (unlike the cellar spider). Moreover, they are a non-aggressive species and do not bite humans and animals. Theoretically speaking, a harvestman bite would not be of any concern.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, harvestmen make for great, low maintenance pets if you like spiders and other arachnids, as a harvestman's bite is not a concern. Remember to feed them dead insects and fungi.

They are completely harmless and non-aggressive. Rather, they are very easily scared and if one holds them by their legs, they might detach them assuming a predator attack.

Sometimes, harvestmen also have bright red mites attached to their body. These mites are found on various other spiders as well. The reason for carrying these mites is not entirely known.

There is no way to get rid of these mites without affecting the harvestman's health. Since the most common removing tool - rubbing alcohol can affect both the parasite and the pet.

On the whole, the harvestmen spiders are quite uninteresting and do not react a lot. If you are looking for an interactive and interesting pet, then there are various other more interesting spider species available.

Did you know...

During a tussle with a predator, the harvestman can detach a leg that the predator has gotten hold of. The leg continues to twitch after this (for around 60 seconds), allowing the spider some time to flee. However, the leg does not grow back.

Hence, it is always suggested to never directly hold a harvestman using its legs. The alarm may cause them to detach a leg. Instead, one can give them a piece of paper to stand on and then carry them.

There are various old farm myths regarding the insect. One such myth is that if you kill a harvestman, then there would be rainfall the next day.

Common differences between the cellar spider vs harvestman debate include differences in the number of eyes, spiders have four pairs, Harvestmen have a single pair, pair of legs (spiders have four pairs with six joints, harvestmen have four pairs with seven joints), and presence of silk glands for venom (cellar spiders have venom gland whereas harvestmen do not).

Spiders also have bodies divided into two segments.

Why are harvestman called daddy long legs?

Harvestmen are known as daddy long legs due to their long, spidery legs. They are also known as granddaddy longlegs in some places.

Other than this, they are also referred to as 'shepherd spiders'. This is because earlier European herders would stand on stilts to observe their cattle. This is similar to how a moving harvestman cluster looks.

There is a myth that harvestman insects are capable of finding lost cattle by pointing at them with their legs. If a shepherd picked up a harvestman by seven of its feet, allegedly, the eighth foot would point towards the direction of the missing cattle.

How many species of harvestman are there?

We know that there are at least 6,650 Harvestman species around the world. Including extinct species, the number reaches 10,000!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods including the yellow sac spider and the deathstalker scorpion.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our Harvestman coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Chandan Shukla

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Chandan Shukla picture

Chandan ShuklaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

With a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Aryabhatta College, University of Delhi, Chandan is a skilled and passionate technophile. He has completed a machine learning training program and is adept in various programming languages. He has been working as a content writer for two years while also striving to become a proficient tech professional.

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