Saturday, 26 September 2015

Day 317 - Hairy Scary Harvestmen - Arachnaphobia Alert!!!

Harvestman (Phalamgium opilio) with a couple of mites on board
Hey everyone today's Day 317 and it's getting to the time if year of which some of my audience will call fall, but I call Autumn. At this time of year, in England at least, loads and loads of spiders start to come into people's houses to have a warm place to stay for the winter. There aren't many that could hurt you where I am but there are plenty that give some people quite a fright.

There are small black and yellow ones that live mostly outside in a spiders web, to the huge brown ones that have wings! Note: I'm on about Craneflys here and while these aren't technically a spider they still freak some people (like Mum) out (:-). The ones I am interested in today are ones that live in the corners of the bathroom looking quite spindley, brown quite big, but with little bodies

A view form above - this one was on the banks
of the River Swale
Most of you will know that I am talking about the Harvestman. I can't personally bring myself to say that they are 'lovely' like I usually do but I will say that they will make an interesting blog subject.

So, here are the facts on these creepy creatures:

  • Firstly, people usually just say "Harvestman!" when they see one but they are being wildly scientifically inaccurate. There are actually 6,500 species as of 2012...
  • ...Yes, in the order 'Opiliones' (Harvestmen) there are 6 and a half thousand species of Harvestmen but that number could exceed 10,000 if we look harder.
These two were on a shed in Norfolk
  • Some of these include: the Cereatta, the Lacronia, the Koyamia. These are only 3 of 10,000 different types in the world.
  • Secondly these are not spiders but they are arachnids. They belong to a group called Opilones and they are different to spiders as they have no silk glands or fangs
This is under my microscope
  • The Female's body length is usually about 5-7mm long with the Males being a measly 3mm. Scarily though, the legs can grow up to 50mm long.!
  • They are usually found in the shady side of an old building where some species will gather in groups of up to a huge 400!
  • As they don't produce silk they have to hunt in a different way to spiders. They catch insects by using hooks that they have at the end of their legs.
  • They can defend themselves even without fangs and venom, they produce a nasty smelling liquid to deter predators. If that doesn't work they can shed a leg to get away from predators.
Mum wasn't pleased to see this in our toilet in Norfolk
- probably the longest legs I've seen on a Harvestman
  • The Harvestman is common all over the British Isles, including the Channel Islands. It also drifts down into Africa as well.
  • The Harvestman is not much of a threat in any way, shape of form. The do not have poison glands, they don't bite and their legs/arms don't 'regenerate'.
Here are a few links to some more information:

RSPB - Harvestmen

UK Safari - Harvestmen


Hope you enjoyed,

Z.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic shots here Zach! I love spiders! - Tasha

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