Daddy long-legs Spiders

25 July, 2010

Pholcus phalangioides: Daddy Long-legs Spider
Pholcus phalangioides: Daddy Long-legs Spider
Image: Graham Milledge
Source: Museum Victoria

Question: Is it true that the Daddy long-legs Spider is the most venomous spider in the world but its fangs are too small to pierce our skin?

Answer: This is a commonly held belief yet it seems that although the fangs are very small, (estimated to be around 0.25mm in length) they are capable of piercing human skin. However, tests have revealed that the venom of Daddy long-legs Spiders is no more powerful than most other spiders, and it is not considered dangerous to human health.

The question arises as to where this impressive reputation arose. Daddy long-legs Spiders are capable of killing Redback Spiders. Given the fact that Redback venom is considered dangerous to humans, the logic goes that any spider that can kill Redbacks must be more even more dangerous.  The Daddy long-legs Spiders that we find often in some numbers around and in our homes is thought to be an introduced species but is likely to be helping to minimise Redback Spider numbers.

Comments (11)

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trukit6u8o 13 August, 2010 17:56
hello u rock i love the museam
Fishoey 25 August, 2013 14:21
It's museUm
ellen O'Gallagher 30 April, 2011 23:07
a friend told me that a daddy long legs was not a real spider because it didn't have the right number of body sections. i disputed this. in the US where i grew up a daddy long legs was clearly not a spider having only a round body and possibly only six legs. i think this creature is called a harvestman here.
Discovery Centre 22 May, 2011 13:33
Hi Ellen, in Australia, the name 'Daddy long-legs' is used to refer to a specific spider, Pholcus phalangioides and the members of the order Opiliones (Harvestmen). Harvestmen are related to spiders and belong in the same Class Arachnida, but differ from spiders by not having an obvious division between the cephalothorax and abdomen. You can find more information and links on our Question of the week about these Arachnids.
Mick 20 June, 2011 14:53
How can you at all compare a Daddy Long Legs and a Harvestman sure they both have long legs but their bodies are totally different right down to their colour. The only thing I can see that they share is long legs but then even these are different.
scott 8 September, 2012 17:20
i found a daddy long legs with olny SIX legs is it a spider it is NOT a cane fly and NOT a harvestman it IS a daddy long legs it has olny SIX legs
Layla 3 May, 2013 07:27
I'm really freaking out because my house has a lot of daddy long legs in it and there is 2 in my bedroom! Will they do me any harm of any sort??
Discovery Centre 3 May, 2013 09:20
Hi Layla - No, as per the answer above, this daddy-long-legs species is not believed to be harmful to humans at all. Just be glad you're not a mosquito!
shery 21 June, 2016 16:53
My question is- Are daddy long leg spiders toxic if accidently ingested- as almost happened to me a Moment ago?? It fell down from The ceiling right next to my mouth.
Discovery Centre 23 June, 2016 10:39
Hi Shery, it is an urban myth that the Daddy Long-legs spider is highly dangerous to humans. They are not considered to pose a risk to people either from their bite or if you were to swallow one.
Anthony 3 December, 2016 03:47
I lived next door to a kindergarten for a number of years and they had to have pest control in on a regular basis because of red-backs and they had plenty. We living next door had none but we did have lots of daddy long legs.I have no doubt that our long legged friends were responsible for that I've also concluded that Daddy long legs are far more susceptible to poison residue than red-backs
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