Myth: Daddy-longlegs would be deadly but...

Illustration: Henry C. McCook
Illustration: Henry C. McCook

Myth: The daddy-longlegs has the world's most powerful venom, but fortunately its jaws (fangs) are so small that it can't bite you.

Fact: That is a full-fledged Urban Legend, with no basis in fact whatever. This legend is so widespread that many people believe it who should really know better, including some teachers and TV documentary producers.

Three different unrelated groups are called "daddy-longlegs." Harvestmen have no venom of any kind. None at all! Same with crane flies . Pholcid spiders have venom (like almost all spiders) but there's nothing special about it; in fact, a recent study showed that pholcid venom is unusually weak in its effect on insects. This myth is debunked at greater length on Rick Vetter's website.

Spider Myths

"Everything that 'everybody knows' about spiders is wrong!" —Rod Crawford sets the record straight with Spider Myths.

harvestman with long legs
Photo: Markku Savela

Harvestman (called daddy-longlegs by some; note body all in one section - not a spider!) Leiobunum rupestre

pholcid house spider
Photo: Bob Thomson

Pholcid house spider (called daddy-longlegs by others; note 2-section body like all spiders) Pholcus phalangioides.

crane fly
Photo: Markku Savela

Crane fly (called daddy-longlegs by still others; it's an insect!) Tipula sp. 

close up of a spider

Spider Myth Resources

Explore even more! Additional spider resources and more myths (poor spiders can't catch a break!).

Photo: Cathy Morris/Burke Museum
Photo: Cathy Morris/Burke Museum