It is almost Halloween, and while we don’t know exactly for sure why spiders are associated with Halloween, we definitely know they are taking up residence in Oklahoma homes right now. Just for fun, we posted on social media a collection of the most common spiders that “move-in” in the fall. Our post read, “Here’s a little cheat sheet to help you identify your new roommate.”
While most comments were light-hearted and fun in nature, there were of course a few arguments. So I along with our certified Entomologist thought it necessary to debunk any misconceptions… specifically about the Daddy Long Legs Spider.
While it is true and very important to seek medical attention after a black widow or brown recluse bite, what is up with the notion that Daddy Long Leg spiders are “the most venomous spider in the world”?
There are two types of insects that can be found in this region that are referred to as “Daddy Long Legs”. The first, the Order Opiliones, commonly known as Harvestmen, and the second, the Family Pholcidae commonly known as Cellar Spiders, in the Order Araneae (which is the order “true spiders” belong to).
What is the difference? The Opiliones, or Harvestmen, are actually not true spiders at all and appear to only have one body segment, do not have fangs, and are not venomous. Pholcids, or Cellar Spiders, while they do have fangs, are venomous and do bite, their venom is not toxic to humans, their fangs are short and jaw muscles weak, making their bite unlikely to penetrate skin, and they rarely try to bite humans at all. According to Rick Vetter of the University of California at Riverside, the daddy long-legs spider has never harmed a human and there is no evidence that they are dangerous to humans. The most likely reason Cellar Spiders may have been thought to be “the most venous spider” is because they are the ones most seen by humans and have been known to kill venomous spiders such as Brown Recluses and Black Widows. So perhaps it was once thought, if they are able to kill venomous spiders then the Daddy Long Leg Spider venom must be pretty potent!
For further information visit the University of California’s Spider Research Site.