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Do Daddy Long Legs Bite?

daddy long legs

"Daddy long legs" is a colloquial term that can refer to two different types of arachnids: harvestmen (order Opiliones) and cellar spiders (family Pholcidae). Each type has its own characteristics and behaviors when it comes to biting.

  1. Harvestmen (Opiliones): Harvestmen, often referred to as daddy long legs, are arachnids that are not true spiders. They belong to the order Opiliones and are distinct from spiders in several ways. Harvestmen have a rounded body, and their legs and body are not clearly divided like those of spiders. They also lack venom glands and silk-producing structures. Harvestmen primarily feed on decaying matter, small insects, and vegetation. Harvestmen do have mouthparts, but they lack fangs and venom glands. They do not possess the ability to produce venom or deliver a harmful bite to humans. While some species might have the capability to produce a mild acidic substance for defensive purposes, this substance is not harmful to humans and is not delivered through a bite. In general, harvestmen are not known to bite humans, and even if they were to attempt a defensive bite, it would not result in any significant effects.
  2. Cellar Spiders (Pholcidae): Another group commonly referred to as daddy long legs are the cellar spiders, which belong to the family Pholcidae. These spiders are known for their long, thin legs and delicate appearance. Unlike harvestmen, cellar spiders are true spiders and possess venom glands. Cellar spiders do have fangs and venom glands, but their venom is very weak and not harmful to humans. Their fangs are not capable of piercing human skin, and even if they were to bite, the effects would be minimal, akin to a mild irritation similar to a mosquito bite. However, cellar spiders are not aggressive towards humans and are not inclined to bite unless directly provoked or handled. Bites from cellar spiders are exceedingly rare due to their non-aggressive nature and the limitations of their venom delivery system.

The common notion that daddy long legs can deliver harmful or dangerous bites to humans is largely a myth. Harvestmen lack the necessary venom and fangs to pose any threat, while cellar spiders have weak venom and are not inclined to bite. As a result, encounters with either type of daddy long legs are unlikely to result in any significant negative effects for humans.

If you believe you have been bitten by a daddy long legs (harvestman or cellar spider), there's generally no cause for serious concern. Daddy long legs are not known for delivering harmful or toxic bites to humans. However, if you experience any discomfort or unusual symptoms after an encounter, you can follow these steps:

  • Clean the Area: Clean the affected area with mild soap and water to prevent infection. Gently pat the area dry with a clean towel.
  • Apply a Cold Compress: If you experience any redness, swelling, or mild discomfort, you can apply a cold compress to the area. This can help reduce inflammation and soothe the skin.
  • Over-the-Counter Pain Relief: If you're experiencing discomfort, you can consider taking an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, following the recommended dosage instructions.
  • Monitor for Symptoms: While daddy long legs are not known to deliver harmful bites, it's important to monitor the affected area for any changes. If you notice increasing pain, swelling, redness, or if any unusual symptoms develop, consider seeking medical attention.
  • Seek Medical Attention if Necessary: If you experience severe symptoms such as an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or throat), or if the symptoms worsen over time, it's advisable to seek medical attention. While such reactions are extremely rare, it's better to be cautious.
  • Avoid Scratching: It's important to avoid scratching the affected area, as this can introduce bacteria and increase the risk of infection. If itching is a concern, you can apply an over-the-counter anti-itch cream or ointment.
  • Stay Calm: Remember that daddy long legs bites are not typically a cause for serious concern. Staying calm and following basic first aid practices should be sufficient in most cases.

It's important to note that if you're unsure about the source of the bite or if you experience severe symptoms, it's always better to consult a medical professional. Additionally, if you suspect that you've been bitten by a different type of spider that is known to be venomous, such as a black widow or brown recluse, seek medical attention immediately, as their bites can be more serious.