Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes


Order Opiliones - Harvestmen

War of the Worlds Machine? - Phalangium opilio - male Harvestman - Eumesosoma roeweri Opiliones mating dance? - Leiobunum vittatum - male - female harvestman #6 voucher image - Siro boyerae Harvestman, possibly Genus Vonones? - Vonones Speleonychia sengeri - Speleonychia Harvestman - Dendrolasma mirabile Desert Harvestman - Eurybunus
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Chelicerata (Chelicerates)
Class Arachnida (Arachnids)
Order Opiliones (Harvestmen)
Other Common Names
English: Daddy-long-legs/Daddy-longlegs/Daddy Long-legs, Granddaddy-long-legs, Harvest Spiders, Shepherd Spiders, Phalangids, Opilionids; French: faucheux, opilions; German: Weberknechte.
>6600 species worldwide arranged into ~ 45 families of 4 suborders (of which Laniatores is by far the largest, with >4100 species)(1)(2)(3)
Variable; body sizes range from a few millimeters to a few centimeters. Legs are several times the size of the body in the more familiar "daddy-long-legs" forms of the Phalangioidea.
Easily separated from spiders by the broad fusion of the two body segments, so that the body appears to be composed of a singular segment. Harvestmen do not possess silk glands, and can't spin webs. Unlike spiders, harvestmen lack venom glands associated with their chelicerae (mouthparts). Uniquely among the arachnids fertilization is direct: males of most taxa possess a penis (also referred to in the literature as pene, aedagus or intromittent organ).

Almost all long-legged harvestmen observed "wandering" or exposed in habitats, either during daylight hours or at night, will represent members of the suborder Eupnoi. The most conspicuous/photographed taxa in North America include members of the Phalangiidae & Sclerosomatidae (Leiobunum in particular).
Global, except Antarctica(2)
All habitats in Canada & the US: forests, grasslands, wetlands, mountains, caves, chaparral, and anthropogenic habitats.
"Daddy-long-legs" are not likely to be found in winter months in northern/montane regions, except as overwintering populations in refugia (e.g., caves). However, many of the small-bodied reclusive taxa are only winter active.
Life Cycle
Egg, juvenile, adult. Most reproduce sexually (direct fertilization, males possess a penis); a handful parthenogenetically (i.e., without males).
Although often mistaken for spiders, these arachnids are more closely related to scorpions(2)
In some cases, in dry climates, they gather in large numbers during the day, probably to avoid dessication, and wander about in search of food after the sun goes down.
Photo taken in Sierra Madre, Mexico
Opiliones, sierra Madre. file00202001.w

MYTH BUSTER ... "Stop the Urban Legend!"
Is the "Daddy Long-Legs" the most venomous spider? NO...Absolutely Not
Two groups of arachnids are commonly called "Daddy Long-legs" but neither are dangerous to people.
Group I: Opiliones (=Phalangida), "Harvestmen" --Commonly called "Daddy Long-legs," they DO NOT POSSESS VENOM nor a delivery system (see here)
Group II: Araneae (True Spiders), family Pholcidae, "Cellar Spiders" --true spiders with mild venom that is not considered dangerous to vertebrates, incl. humans (see here)
Print References
Bishop, S.C. 1949 The Phalangida (Opiliones) of New York. Proceedings of the Rochester Academy of Science. 9:159-235 - key and species descriptions
Hedin M., Starrett J., Akhter S., Schönhofer A.L., Shultz J.W. (2012) Phylogenomic resolution of Paleozoic divergences in harvestmen (Arachnida, Opiliones) via analysis of next-generation transcriptome data. PLoS ONE 7(8): e42888 (Full text)
Works Cited
1.Order Opiliones Sundevall, 1833. In: Zhang Z.-Q. (ed.) Animal biodiversity: An outline of higher-level classification...
Kury A.B. 2013. Zootaxa 3703: 27–33.
2.Kury A.B. (-2014) Classification of Opiliones
3.Kury A.B., ed. (2009) Project Opilionomicon. Museu Nacional, UFRJ, Rio de Janeiro
4.Spiders and Their Kin: A Golden Guide from St. Martin's Press
Herbert W. Levi, Lorna R. Levi, Nicholas Strekalovsky. 2001. St. Martin's Press.
5.Harvestmen: The Biology of Opiliones
Ricardo Pinto-Da-Rocha, Glauco Machado, and Gonzalo Giribet (eds.). 2007. Harvard University Press.