Harvestmen...or Daddy Long-legs Sira, Karnataka, 010215

February 2, 2015

Most of us shudder at the sight of spiders,but they are really fascinating creatures. Did you know that most spiders are solitary…and cannibalistic? Many female spiders eat the males after mating!

However, there are some spiders which are more sociable. One variety called Social Spiders, spin whole “apartment” complexes, which can cover large areas, like long stretches of this barbed wire fence:


Or over plants, as you can see here:


However, there is another group of spiders which are commonly called

Daddy Long-legs (they have long, thin legs!) or Harvestmen

Scientifically their name is Opiliones; but they are also referred to as “shepherd spiders” in reference to how their unusually long legs reminded observers of the ways that some European shepherds used stilts to better observe their wandering flocks from a distance.

They suddenly came to my mind when I looked at what I thought was a dark patch of small twigs on the trunk of a tree…



and found that they were actually a tightly-clustered group of Havestmen:


I took a short video, and you can see them moving on their spindly legs, hardly seeming to touch the bark of the tree!

Here’s my friend documenting the congregation after I showed him the spiders:


Harvestmen are very old arachnids. Fossils from 410 million years ago, already , prove that the group has lived on land since that time. How wonderful to come across these marvellous creatures!

Why were they clustered like this, so tightly? How did they ensure that their long legs didn’t get entangled, or broken? I am seeking the answers…and will, hopefully, find out!

I hope reading this post may remove some of the fears of arachnids (spiders) that many of us suffer from, and allow us to see them for the fascinating creatures they are.