Friday, November 27, 2009

Daddy Long Legs Daddies (aka Harvestman)


More from Life in the Undergrowth Episode 1 - Sir Attenborough stuck his micro camera in a "harvestman" nest, and showed a male guarding a nest filled with about 25 eggs. This creature, which looked like a spider, was constantly cleaning off the eggs. Occasionally a female harvestman would stop by to mate, and she would add her eggs to his collection. This egg-sitting service was provided to more than one female. At one point, a female tried to eat one of the eggs. After the male chased her off, he scurried around and seemed to be counting the eggs to make sure they were all there. He didn't stop until he seemed satisfied that his brood was safe.

Trying to find out more about this harvestman wasn't so easy. Sir Attenborough didn't mention the particular species he was observing, and it turns out there are thousands of them. But searching around the web (no pun intended, since harvestmen don't make webs), I discovered that what he showed was most likely a Zygopachylus albomarginis.

I was surprised to find out from my research that the "American" name for a harvestman is "daddy long legs". In the UK, they use the term "daddy long legs" to refer to a crane fly. The harvestman they showed in the video did not look or act like the ones I commonly see in New Jersey. Apparently Z. albomarginis lives in Panama. The Jersey harvestmen look more like the one in the photo above, but with a more rounded and darker body.

The most surprising thing I discovered is that despite their appearance, harvestmen are not spiders! They are arachnids, so they are related to spiders, but there are some differences. Spiders have a narrow waist (pedicel) between their two body sections, breathe using book lungs (more on that here), and produce silk. They eat by piercing their prey with fangs, injecting venom and digestive juices, and sucking out the digested contents. Harvestmen have an oval body (no waist), breathe by diffusing air directly from their tracheae into their "blood" (no lungs), and do not produce silk. They also do not produce venom, so they eat by ripping their prey into small pieces and transferring these to their mouth.

I'll leave you with a fun assignment for the next time you are in the woods at night (although it may be too cold to do this now in the northern latitudes). Take a flashlight and hold the butt end against your forehead, just above your eyebrows. Point the beam of the flashlight straight out, parallel to your line of vision. Then look around until you find a set of glowing green eyes looking back at you. Walk toward the eyes, keeping the flashlight on them, and you will find a spider. No kidding!

Thanks to Wikimedia Commons for the photo.

10 comments:

  1. I was determined to get over my fear of spiders by learning more about them..But the spider gods have tested me by sending little house spiders to lurk in an empty coffee cup or by my tissue box on my night stand. I am pleased to say that I no longer run screaming from the room.. but would you ask them to please stay out of my coffee cup.

    These are interesting spiders and I do plan to get out and look in the spring after the foot of snow melts... Michelle...

    My COS Autumn Meadowhawks Mating.

    ReplyDelete
  2. i HATE spiders, and anything that looks like a spider. they are the most disgusting things i have ever laid eyes on and if they come in my house they will be smashed/sprayed/swatted/crushed/poisoned. that is all. roger that.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Do you wish a watch but with affordable style? As abounding humans already know, an affected alarm can accommodate the ultimate emphasis to an accouterments for appropriate occasions alignment from weddings, to louis vuitton replica ceremonies, to ancestors gatherings and even business meetings. As complements to a chic appearance they activity an air of composure and grace. But the a lot of accepted obstacle to accepting a notable watch is the amount tag that accompanies a lot of replica watches top of the band accurate brands. Unfortunately, the a lot of accepted watches in the apple aren?t so because of their affordability. Some of the top brands? best affairs watches can amount anywhere from 2 to 7 thousand dollars and sometimes far beyond. Since this is far too big-ticket for the boilerplate watch client acquisitive to supplement their attending with some top chic appearance that won?t breach the bank, abounding humans accept absolutely acquiescently angry to top superior Panerai replica watches Superior central and out. Contrary to accepted belief, abounding of today's accessible top superior replicas do a astounding job of actualization just like the top of the band brands they are imitating. Indistinguishable to a lot of breitling replica people, they achieve the aforementioned akin of breeding and adroitness after acceptable a banking burden. They are bogus to top standards by craftsmen who specialize in the assembly of top superior but affordable IWC replica watches, and are, in abounding cases, just as chronologically absolute and physically abiding as the acutely big-ticket accurate cast name watches. Considered from the bend of appearance and aesthetics, extenuative money by affairs a replica watch makes faculty because a lot of humans will never be able to rolex replica acquaint the aberration amid a replica and the absolute thing. Considered from the bend of quality, extenuative money affairs a Cartier replica watch makes faculty because abounding replicas are just as able and accurate as the absolute thing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. watch Vintage WW1 watch works of Designer handbags conceptual design, and we described here the watch works PW1. The handbag replica PW1 RepetitionMinutes Argentium watch with simple retro design, as well as Watches Replica five points two ask time performance, most notably ArgentiumR Ge silver alloy with this gold watch, let show a very unique nostalgic Replica Rolex Watches texture. PW1 Repetition Minutes Argentium, ArgentiumR patent germanium and silver alloy material watchcase UK Replica watches .

    ReplyDelete
  5. The 50th Rolex Watches comes with a black dial, The face of the Rolex Watches is a little bit crowded as on all types of Fake Rolex Watches, but its core quality is also present- it has an intriguingly superior legibility.The Hermes handbags quality of the products was excellent,I bought this Hermes Handbags bag from this website :http://www.vogueluxury.cn


    ReplyDelete