MadSci Network: Zoology
Query:

Re: what can I do to just lessen the amount of grand-daddy longlegs in my house

Date: Sat Jun 5 18:36:49 1999
Posted By: Andrea Bixler, staff (postdoctoral associate), biology, UM-St. Louis
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 928154252.Zo
Message:

Wow!  I sympathize.  I like grandaddy longlegs, but there's a limit to how 
many I would put up with, especially in my house.  

I don't have a quick-and-easy answer for you, but here are some suggestions:

* you could just sweep as many of them as you can into a garbage bag and empty the bag elsewhere;

* you should try to remove any sources of water--they need water, and their insect prey do too;

* they like a generally moist environment, so if you could just run a fan or dehumidifier to dry the place out a little, that might help;

* also remove any possible source of food--I have had trouble finding out what exactly they eat, but I get the impression that they are pretty omnivorous--they eat almost anything, including bits of "people food" that may be lying around (I'm not making any accusations here, but I suspect since you have kids, especially if they are a certain age, there could be bits of food almost anywhere!);

* also try to close up any place where they might be coming in--cracks around windows, doors or whatever.

* Here is a web page from a County Extension Agent discussing more lethal ways of getting rid of them:

http://ianrwww.unl.edu/ianr/douglas/hmen.htm

You will notice if you go to that page that the Agent refers to them as "harvestmen." This name and "daddy longlegs" or "grandaddy longlegs" are common names for the same animal. Their scientific name is opilionids or Opiliones. They are in the same general group as spiders and mites and scorpions and all sorts of other eight-legged critters (all called arachnids), but they are not spiders or any of those other things. Harvestmen are in a group all by themselves. Here is a great web page that discusses them in more detail:

http://dns.ufsia.ac.be/Arachnology/Pages/Opiliones.html

That web page mentions that harvestmen cannot bite people (you might want to point this out to your kids). Their jaws are just not strong enough to pierce human flesh. Yes, the web page says that some of the species of harvestmen can draw blood, but those species are NOT found in the U.S. Here's another web page with connections to all sorts of other spider pages specifically aimed at kids:

http://dns.ufsia.ac.be/Arachnology/Pages/Kids.html

It doesn't really have anything on harvestmen, but it might inspire your kids to be a little more tolerant of the harvestmen in your house.

Good luck!


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