Daddy Long Legs Fact File

Pholcus phalangioides

Credit: Threecharlie, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Weight

Insufficient

Data

Length

1cm

(0.4in)

Lifespan

Wild 3 years

Captive 3 years

Diet

Carnivore

Spiders, Snakes

Conservation Status

IUCN

Least Concern

The World’s Most Venomous Spider…?

The daddy long legs is often referred to as the world’s most venomous spider in myth. This is untrue and likely stems from their ability to prey on other venomous species such as redback spiders and the brown snake.

This is ability though is more down to their long legs which allow them to grab prey while still on their leg and are difficult for these animals to latch on to and deliver their venom.

Females are dedicated mothers carrying the egg sac in their mouth and then caring for the hatchlings on her web for the first week of life.

They are preyed on by birds.

Read on to learn more about these incredible invertebrates.

Appearance

What does the Daddy Long Legs look like?

The daddy long legs has a small body averaging just 1cm (0.4in) long. They appear much larger though due to the eight large legs located on the sides of the body. These are incredibly skinny.

Females tend to be slightly larger than males.

Much of their body is colored a pale brown or cream color. Dark markings are common on their legs and abdomen. Across the body are numerous small gray hairs.

They have eight eyes.

Adaptations

How does the Daddy Long Legs survive in its habitat?


Their long legs make it easy for them to snatch prey.

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Diet

What does the Daddy Long Legs eat?

The daddy long legs spider is a carnivore which is famed for its ability to subdue some of the most dangerous predators in Australia.

These animals will create a silken web which will capture their prey. They then come and wrap the prey in a cocoon of silk.

They are able to consume redback spiders as their long, thin legs are difficult for the redback to bite to protect themselves.

Some have also been observed to capture and consume brown snakes which become trapped in their silk web.

They have been recorded to engage in cannibalism.

Learn more about the Daddy Long Legs in this video from Live Science on YouTube

Range

Where do you find the Daddy Long Legs?

The daddy long legs is found globally. This species was introduced to Australia from Europe.

Habitat

Where can the Daddy Long Legs survive?

They are most often found in dark areas which are rarely subject to disturbance.

This species is commonly associated with homes and they are prevalent in crevices behind furniture. They are more commonly seen inside during winter when they seek out the warmth offered by these habitats.

These spiders are most often seen on their web. This is a messy, tangled web of silk.

Along with making their own web they have also been recorded taking the nest of other species.

Daddy Long Legs (Pholcus phalangioides)

Credit: Géry PARENT, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Reproduction

How does the Daddy Long Legs produce its young?

Breeding takes place year round. Males are cautious as they approach the female for breeding.

Each clutch produced by the female includes 50 or more eggs. She may produce as many as eight of these during her life. The eggs are deposited in a silk sac which she will then carry in her mouth.

These eggs incubate for 17-24 days. Following hatching the young remain on their mother’s back until they are ready to live.

Young remain on the mothers web for 9 days until they complete their first shed.

These animals will reach maturity within one year.

Behavior

What does the Daddy Long Legs do during its day?

These animals are solitary and maintain their own web.

Males are able to locate females using the pheromones which they emit.

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Predators and Threats

What stops the Daddy Long Legs from surviving and thriving?

Birds will prey on the daddy long legs spider.

When the web is disturbed they will begin to sway it rapidly. This can make the spider difficult to see and may act as a form of camouflage.

Quick facts

The daddy long legs is best known for a myth. They are often quoted as the world’s most venomous spider. The myth follows that they only don’t harm humans as their fangs are too small to bite us. This is untrue and they are able to bite.

If bitten by any spider you should seek medical treatment if there is any reaction.

They may also be known as the long-bodied cellar spider or the skull spider due to the similarity between their abdomen and a human skull.

This species was first described for modern science in 1775.

Daddy Long Legs (Pholcus phalangioides)

Credit: Luis Fernández García, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

References

Crew, B., 2021. Creatura. 1st ed. Terrey Hills, NSW: Australian Geographic.

Backyard Buddies. 2022. Daddy Long Legs Spiders – Backyard Buddies. [online] Available at: <https://backyardbuddies.org.au/backyard-buddies/daddy-long-legs-spiders/> [Accessed 9 January 2022].

Sunshine Coast Council. 2022. Daddy-long-legs spider. [online] Available at: <https://www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/Environment/Education-Resources-and-Events/Environment-Resources-and-Publications/Invertebrates/Daddy-long-legs-spider> [Accessed 9 January 2022].

Queensland Museum. 2022. Daddy Long-Legs. [online] Available at: <https://www.qm.qld.gov.au/Explore/Find+out+about/Animals+of+Queensland/Spiders/Modern+Spiders+Infraorder+Araneomorphae/Daddy-long-legs+spiders/Daddy-long-legs> [Accessed 9 January 2022].

The Australian Museum. 2022. Daddy-long-legs Spider. [online] Available at: <https://australian.museum/learn/animals/spiders/daddy-long-legs-spider/> [Accessed 9 January 2022].

Penn State Extension. 2022. Longbodied Cellar Spider. [online] Available at: <https://extension.psu.edu/longbodied-cellar-spider> [Accessed 9 January 2022].

Ferrick, A. 2002. “Pholcus phalangioides” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed January 09, 2022 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Pholcus_phalangioides/

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