|Longbodied Cellar Spider - Pholcus phalangioides|
Family Pholcidae - Cellar and Vibrating Spiders
Live adult spiders photographed outdoors at DuPage County, Illinois, USA.
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This large but wispy spider is commonly called the cellar spider, after its habit of living in dark, out-of-the-way places. Often confused with harvestmen in the order Opiliones, (species epithet phalangioides = "like or resembling (genus) Phalangium") they also share another whimsical common name: daddy longlegs.
The cellar spider can be found worldwide in many situations, including outdoors. Their wisp-like coloration, translucent and nearly transparent in some aspects, this spider is adept at hiding in plain sight.
Leg span this specimen = about 25mm. Body length =8mm.
There is a famous old wives' tale (now internet meme) about this family of spiders (and the harvestmen as well): that their bite is the most dangerous, or their venom is the most lethal known to man. However, neither these spiders nor the harvestmen have the equipment for delivery of any but the tiniest amounts of venom, and that dangerous only to the small creatures, i.e. flies, other spiders, etc.
These spiders have at the back of the eye a reflective membrane called a tapetum . It is this surface that aids in night vision and causes their eyes to reflect light and shine in the dark, like a cat's eyes. Most sedentary spiders have relied on their sense of touch for so long their vision is thought to be poor.
Class Arachnida / Order Araneae: Spiders are the largest group of arachnids. They are easily recognized by their eight legs, and there are few creatures great or small that elicit such irrational fear in mankind. The vast majority of spiders are completely harmless and offer beneficial services, chief of which is keeping the burgeoning insect population in check. I am continually amazed at the resourcefulness of these supremely successful predators.
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