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The Spider Myths Site
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Just Plain Weird Stories

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 (below left) have no venom of any kind. None at all! Same with crane flies (below right). Pholcid spiders (below center) 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 web site.

Longlegged harvestman from Finland Common longlegged house spider Longlegged crane fly from Finland
(called daddy-longlegs by some; note body all in one section - not a spider!)
Leiobunum rupestre
      from a photo by Markku Savela)
Click image to enlarge
Pholcid house spider
(called daddy-longlegs by others; note 2-section body like all spiders)
Pholcus phalangioides
     from a photo by Bob Thomson)
Click image to enlarge
Crane fly
(called daddy-longlegs by still others; it's an insect!)
Tipula sp.
      from a photo by Markku Savela)
Click image to enlarge

Text © 2003, Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture,
University of Washington, Box 353010, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
Phone: 206-543-5590
Photos © as credited
Queries to Spider Myths author, Rod Crawford

This page last updated 1 September, 2010

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