There are numerous misconceptions about granddaddy long legs, and since they are commonly found in homes, it is helpful to know all about granddaddy long legs. Often called daddy long legs, these creatures are not actually spiders. Though like spiders, they are in the arachnid family, but they are in their own separate order of opiliones. The common names for this little creature are daddy long legs, harvestmen, shepherd spiders, granddaddy long legs, reapers and opilionids. Despite popular myth, they don’t have venom glands, fangs or other ways to chemically stun their prey or to bite people. They also don’t produce silk to make spider webs.
Some of the 6,400 granddaddy long legs species worldwide do have glands on their bodies that secrete defensive chemicals that help protect them from predators, which find the chemical offensive both to taste and smell.
The reason granddaddy long legs are not considered true spiders is because they have one basic body segment where all their 8 legs are attached and only 2 eyes. Real spiders have 8 eyes and have two body segments, called the cephalothorax and abdomen, which are very distinct. On granddaddy long legs these 2 body segments are actually fused into a single body part, as in mites and ticks. But like arachnids, granddaddy long legs don’t go through metamorphose. That means when baby granddaddy long legs hatch from eggs, they look like miniature versions of their parents. As they grow larger, they molt their skin throughout their life cycle.
These granddaddy long legs survive by eating decomposing vegetation and animals. Occasionally they can be opportunist predators and go after smaller, soft-bodied insects. You can usually find granddaddy long legs in moist habitats, in cellars, and under logs and rocks. A few are even found in desert regions. And it is believed that, because the legs of granddaddy long legs fall off easily, they use that to avoid predators. This is because the legs keep twitching on their own after falling off and confuse the predator while the granddaddy long legs sneaks away.
There are some long-held myths about granddaddy long legs.
It was once believed by ranchers that they could use granddaddy long legs to find their lost cattle. As the myth goes, if you pick-up a granddaddy long legs by all of the legs but one, that single leg will point in the direction of the lost herd.
Another myth is that if you kill a granddaddy long leg, you can count on rain the next day. But this myth, like most of the others, is untrue.