A Daddy-longlegs spider lives in my bathroom. It might be a Mommy-longlegs as she’s quite petite. My eyesight isn’t good enough to tell her gender. Even if I could I’m not sure what to look for . . .

I let her live there peacefully since we have a lot in common. She’s discrete, I’ve never seen her entertain overnight visitors and quite tidy as I’ve never found any droppings of left-overs from digested meals. She leads a very monastic existence as do I (on occasion).

Daddy Short-Legs
Daddy Short-Legs Spider

I’m not afraid of spiders (except those bigger than my thumb). I try to steer clear of them because when I get bitten by one I have a painful, very painful, allergic response. There is a legend that Daddy-longlegs are deadly venomous spiders which, after careful research, I found not to be true:

“Daddy-longlegs spiders (Pholcidae) – There is no reference to any pholcid spider biting a human and causing any detrimental reaction. If these spiders were indeed deadly poisonous but couldn’t bite humans, then the only way we would know that they are poisonous is by milking them and injecting the venom into humans. For a variety of reasons including Amnesty International and a humanitarian code of ethics, this research has never been done. . . . Therefore, no information is available on the likely toxic effects of their venom in humans, so the part of the myth about their being especially poisonous is just that: a myth.” http://spiders.ucr.edu/daddylonglegs.htm

I hesitate to get too chummy or name her because one day, should she decide to venture down from her post on the window near the ceiling and try to share my counter space, I might have to kill her.

(And with that, I sound like much of the world fighting for and protecting territory. Perhaps it’s not so mysterious why we don’t have world peace?)

– Judith Westerfield

© 2015, words and illustration, Judith Westerfield

2 thoughts on “Giving Amnesty to Daddy Longlegs

  1. At the Nature Center where I volunteered, we called them Harvestmen because they came out especially in the fall, As a Girl Scout, I was told to leave them alone on the canvas roof because they’d eat mosquitoes. Actually, they are a beneficial decomposer, helping to return waste matter to soil, but not a big predator.

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