Week of July 24, 2022 – July 30, 2022
by Anna Stunkel, Environmental Educator
As summer camp started last week, the preschool campers in my group were particularly fascinated by daddy longlegs! These creatures are especially active during the summer, and we saw several of them crawling around on their spindly legs each day. The campers enjoyed gathering around to watch them move, and spotting them resting atop stinging nettle plants.
I have fond childhood memories of watching daddy longlegs crawling around in my parents’ backyard. I liked to follow them and notice the different colors and patterns on their backs.
Although daddy longlegs are arachnids, they are actually more closely related to scorpions than to spiders. Daddy longlegs are also known as harvestmen. They are scavengers and are often very active at night, when they search for food like fungi, dead insects, and occasionally live insects. Despite circulating myths, they are not venomous and are harmless to humans. They are very ancient, and have been around for over 400 million years! To confuse predators, they have multiple leg segments which can twitch after becoming detached.
Have you been noticing many daddy longlegs lately? If you see one, take a moment to observe how it moves. Try going for a nighttime stroll with a flashlight to observe them, as they are very active under cover of darkness.