Menagerie Monday (8): Leggy Lurker

Just a little over a week ago I found this harvestman (order Opilones) resting on one of our white cone flowers (Echinacea sp.) and the breeze was kind enough to pause a few times while I focused in. I am always tempted to present new images of these little folk in a Webnesday post but, of course, they are not spiders, nor do they construct webs. Yes, they do have eight legs, but only one body segment (spiders have two) and only two eyes (most spiders have eight but some have six). Further, whereas the chelicerae of spiders support the fangs, those of harvestmen end in pincers. The eyes are those two tiny dots mounted up high, like a small saddle on an elephant. I find it really amazing that their vision is acute enough to permit them to walk around with confidence, among flowers and grasses and the like, with those extremely long and spindly legs. Much study has been devoted to the amazing eyes of jumping spiders but a quick internet search turned up no similar ones for those of the harvestmen. I did, however, find a Scientific American article that reported fossilized prehistoric intermediate versions that had four eyes (https://www.livescience.com/44740-daddy-longlegs-fossil-images.html).

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About krikitarts

Welcome to Krikit Arts! I'm a veterinarian; photographer; finger-style guitarist, composer, instructor, and singer/songwriter; fisherman; and fly-tyer. Please enjoy--and please respect my full rights to all photos on this Website!
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4 Responses to Menagerie Monday (8): Leggy Lurker

  1. shoreacres says:

    Now I know: your harvestman is my granddaddy longlegs. Even as a kid, I knew they were different from spiders, but I still thought they were a little creepy. They became even creepier when I found a pulsating mass of them out in the country one day — but interesting? Oh, yes.

    Your photos are wonderfully detailed. It took me a second to find the eyes, but I did. And I have to say, your coneflowers are beautiful. I thought I had a photo of a white coneflower, but now I think it might be a white rosinweed. Since the bloom was in the process of drying, and I didn’t yet know there was a white rosinweed, it’s hard to say.

    • krikitarts says:

      I’ve also known them as daddy longlegs, but this is the first I’ve heard of the term using granddaddy! Here is a link to another post in which you can see the eyes more clearly. Click on the (last) photo twice to see it larger and at higher resolution.

  2. Somehow I never thought about how many eyes a daddy longlegs has or where they’re located. The position on top seems to imply that these creatures don’t easily see what they’re walking on. I found a website that says some species have no eyes at all.

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