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The Daddy Long Legs Spider: Household Danger or Household Helper?

It skitters across the floor and up the walls on its eight lengthy legs.  In its movement alone, the Daddy Long Legs Spider is the epitome of “creepy crawly”!  Subject of urban legend and even nickname confusion, the daddy long legs spider has become a very misunderstood household visitor.

Turns out the moniker “daddy long legs” actually refers to a couple of creatures, one being the harvestman, an outdoor-dwelling, long-legged bug that is actually not a spider at all!

In our Sacramento pest control region, the most common creature to be termed “daddy long legs” is known as the cellar spider.  With its tiny body in comparison to its long, nimbly segmented legs, it’s easy to see where this spider got its nickname. As part of the Pholcidae family, the cellar spider is a quiet, solitary feeder feasting on small insects and other spiders.  Harmless, and even helpful, cellar spiders are a common encounter in an average household.

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But haven’t you heard? “Daddy long legs are the most venomous spiders in the world, only their mouths are too small to bite through human skin!” Though this false rumor has become increasingly popular to the point of legend, the UC Riverside Spider Research Site (http://spiders.ucr.edu/daddylonglegs.html) provides evidence that any venom held by the daddy long legs only affects the smallest of creatures.  However, true scientific evidence about the toxicity of daddy long legs venom is hard to come by, as research would need to include milking the spider’s venom and injecting it directly into a human subject.  Based simply on frequent encounters and the lack of hospitalization reports, it’s probably safe to say daddy long leg spiders are harmless to humans.

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While they are handy in helping reduce the population of other spiders, these arachnids create messy, tangled webs that can be an unsightly nuisance. To avoid having these eight-legged friends become housemates, make sure to frequently clean to make their favorite places to stay, such as corners and gaps between furniture and walls, less hospitable. It is also helpful to eradicate their food source by exterminating other spiders in the vicinity; once its food source is removed, the daddy long legs will find elsewhere to take up residence. If you already have daddy long legs living with you, a recommended means of removal is to vacuum them up and throw away the contents in a sealed bag in an outdoor garbage can. This ensures any egg sacs or webs are picked up reduces the risk of having to deal with the next generation.

As with all crawling home invaders, when in doubt, consult a professional. Although daddy long legs are relatively harmless, other types of spiders in our Sacramento pest control region, such as the black widow, can produce nasty bites or even serious reactions, particularly to children or pets. (Visit http://earthguardpest.com/blog for more articles on spiders in your home.) Our licensed Earth Guard Pest Control professionals are always glad to help you identify the type of spider and answer your questions. Drop by our office or call us at 916-457-7605  or toll-free at 877-D-BUGIN-U (877-328-4468).

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