Are Daddy Longlegs Venomous?

And Can They Bite People?

Daddy longlegs (Opiliones).
Is the daddy longlegs venomous?. Getty Images/Photolibrary/Ed Reschke

Many people believe the daddy longlegs are deadly, or at least venomous. It's also common to hear that they can't bite humans because their fangs are too short to penetrate the skin. Is this just a myth?

The fact that this rumor is repeated so often causes many people to assume that it must be true. However, the real truth is that you really do not need to fear daddy longlegs. In fact, when talking about 'daddy longlegs,'  we may not even be talking about the same creature.

What You Should Know About the 'Daddy Longlegs'

First of all, there are actually three kinds of critters that are commonly called 'daddy longlegs.'

  • The common name daddy longlegs is most often used to describe Opiliones, which are also known as harvestmen. Opiliones are arachnids, but not spiders. They have no venom glands at all and are absolutely not venomous.
  • The nickname 'daddy longlegs' may also refer to a crane fly, which is a true fly and a member of the order Diptera. Crane flies do not pose a threat, either.
  • Sometimes, the name 'daddy longlegs' is used for another group of arachnids, the spiders of the family Pholcidae. These spiders are also commonly called cellar spiders and they do have venom glands.

So, Can Cellar Spiders Harm You?

Even though cellar spiders have venom glands, there is no scientific evidence whatsoever to confirm that their venom can harm a human being. No studies have been done on cellar spider venom to measure its toxicity to people, according to spider experts at the University of California-Riverside.

Pholcid spiders do have short fangs, but these are not any shorter than other spiders that have been known to bite humans. The cellar spider's fangs are similar in structure to those of a brown recluse spider, which we know can and does bite humans. Again, there is no evidence or proof to the claim that their fangs are too short to bite a person.

In fact, the show "Mythbusters" tackled this daddy longlegs legend back in 2004. Host Adam Savage subjected himself to a cellar spider bite, proving that the daddy longlegs spider is indeed capable of breaking human skin.

The results? Savage reported nothing more than a very mild, short-lived burning sensation. Analysis of the daddy longlegs' venom revealed it's nowhere near as potent as venom from a black widow spider.

The truth is that you really don't need to worry about daddy longlegs, of any variety.

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Your Citation
Hadley, Debbie. "Are Daddy Longlegs Venomous?" ThoughtCo, Aug. 23, 2017, Hadley, Debbie. (2017, August 23). Are Daddy Longlegs Venomous? Retrieved from Hadley, Debbie. "Are Daddy Longlegs Venomous?" ThoughtCo. (accessed January 17, 2018).