Common Name: Harvestman
Scientific Name: Varies
Description: Harvestmen have a globular body. They can be separated from spiders which have two distinct body segments because harvestmen have the entire body as one unit. The abdomen is distinctly segmented and the two eyes are mounted on a large dorsal tubercle on the top surface of the body (carapace). While most species have extremely long spindly legs, there are species with shorter legs.
Worldwide, there are 37 families of harvestmen. Eighteen species are reported from Texas. Members of only one family, Phalangiidae, are properly referred to as “daddylonglegs.”
Life Cycle: Harvestmen are primarily predaceous on insects and other arthropods, but sometimes feed on dead insects and plant juices. They have scent glands with ducts to the outside above the bases of the legs (first or second coxae). These glands produce a smelly fluid which may be the reason for the common belief that they are poisonous. No scientific literature verifies that claim.
Habitat, Food Source(s), Damage: Harvestmen are considered to be predators and scavengers. Some species occur nearly everywhere. They are especially common in wooded areas, under rocks or logs, caves, and similar sheltered areas.
Pest Status: Harvestmen are not spiders; medically harmless.
For additional information, contact your local Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent or search for other state Extension offices.
Literature: Rowland & Reddell 1976; Cokendolpher & Lee 1993; Levi et al. (1990).