Thursday, November 17, 2011

Crazy Harvestmen

Among the many things that are bigger, better and simply crazy here than at home are the harvestman. What on earth is a harvestman? Harvestmen are Opiliones, arachnids but not spiders. Usually referred to as “daddy long-legs” they are common everywhere as scavengers and omnivores. Doug Morse related a story to me of watching one trying to steal the prey from a crab spider! They appear to only have one body segment, unlike spiders which obviously have two, but they actually also have two – they are simply joined together across the width of the body.
Harvestman, 13 Nov 2011
I have found a number of this spectacular species around the center, mostly around rotting logs, though also in our bird boxes. I assume that like the species in New England, these are primarily nocturnal. One of the largest misconceptions – well, let’s say the largest – is the pervasive rumor that harvestmen are incredibly venomous, but cannot pierce skin. This is entirely, completely, and totally false. They do not possess venom glands and having picked up hundreds, I have never been “bitten” (I would guess it is more like stabbing, actually, if it ever happens), so perhaps the second part of that is true. 
This guy makes our species look like wimps!

“Spider bites” in general are grossly over reported and one study I read found that everything from small skin infections to flea bites among others were diagnosed – by real doctors – as spider bites. So enjoy your spiders and harvestmen, don’t be afraid (don't pick up black widows, either...). Scorpions, still another arachnid, stay far away from!

These live in our swallow boxes in Peru. I dropped one on my lap once -
I may never move that rapidly again in my life. 

No comments:

Post a Comment