Most people don't realise that you don't have to leave the house to witness wildlife in action. Most toilets and cellars of our homes are inhabited by one of the most elusive hunters in the animal kingdom. It is the 'daddy-long-legs spider', Pholcus phalangioides.
The name 'daddy-long-legs spider' is a bit confusing. These spiders look a bit like daddy-long-legs, i.e. the Crane-flyTipula, but these have wings. They also resemble the long-legged harvestmen of the family Phalangiidae(!) (also often called daddy-long-legs) but if you watch these closely you can see that the head, thorax and abdomen is fused. In spiders there is a clear distinction between the head/thorax region and the abdomen. Perhaps a better name that is been used is 'long-legged cellar spider'.
The family of the Pholcidae normally inhabits warmer regions but Pholcus phalangioides is cosmopolitan finding shelter in the warmth of our houses. Most of the time Pholcus can be found hanging upside down in a loose web in the corner of the ceiling. Its strategy is to remain motionless until a prey passes. And its prey is not what you would expect. It eats mostly other spiders. One of the spiders it eats is the much larger house-spider of the genus Tegenaria , the large hairy funnel-web spider that is one of the main causes of 'arachnophobia', the fear of spiders.
So if you hate spiders, take a daddy-long-legs spider as a pet!
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spiders can be found in the article The
Zebra-spider in 3D
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All photographs © Wim van Egmond
Published in the October 2000 edition of Micscape Magazine.
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