The cosmopolitan Daddy-long-legs Spider belongs to a group known as the tangle-web spiders.
What do Daddy-long-legs Spiders look like?
Daddy-long-legs spiders are easily recognised by their extremely long, skinny legs and small body. Pholcus phalangioides has a brown patch on its pale carapace and a cream to pale brown, lightly patterned abdomen. Some related species have different colour patterns, for instance, the Marbled Cellar Spider (Holocnemus pluchei) has a strongly patterned abdomen with a dark stripe on the underside.
Where do Daddy-long-legs Spiders live?
Daddy-long-legs Spiders are found in most urban areas, in particular houses. They make a thin, tangled web in sheltered positions were they are unlikely to be disturbed, such as under furniture, behind doors, in the corner of the ceilings, in sheds, in garages and under decks.
Its successful use of these human-made structures has made it one of the most common spiders in Australia. If the Daddy-long-legs Spider is disturbed in the web it responds by setting up a very fast, vibratory motion, becoming a blur to anyone watching.
The Daddy-long-legs Spider, Pholcus phalangioides, is found throughout Australia. It is a cosmopolitan species that originates from Europe and was introduced accidentally into Australia. Several other introduced species and about 60 described native pholcids also occur here, the latter usually in natural environments.
What do Daddy-long-legs Spiders eat?
Feeding and diet
The Daddy-long-legs Spider feeds on insects and other spiders.
Are Daddy-long-legs Spiders dangerous?
Danger to humans
There is a persistent belief that the Daddy-long-legs Spider has the most toxic venom of all spiders. However, there is no scientific evidence to back this up. The myth probably grew from observations that the Daddy-long-legs Spider will kill and eat a Redback Spider. However, the venom is not actually that potent, even for insects.
It had been thought that the fangs of this spider were incapable of piercing human skin. Recently, however, it was shown that the tiny fangs (about 0.25 mm) were actually capable of piercing human skin in a test done on the US television show, Mythbusters, but the stinging sensation produced was very short-lived. Most reputable sources, including the University of California, Riverside, still say that this species would never be considered as harmful to humans.
However, in the unlikely event of a bite from this species, a positive identification of the spider by an expert should be made and medical attention sought if any reaction persists for more than a short time.
Stay in the know
Get our monthly emails for amazing animals, research insights and museum eventsSign up today