July brought an onslaught of what is commonly called granddaddy long legs, or daddy long legs. Houses in and are covered with them, making it feel like an invasion in something like Orson Welles' 1938 radio broadcast of War of the Worlds. Have you, too, been invaded this summer?
These things are hanging everywhere lately.
Research for this article, however, revealed that what is commonly thought of as spiders are actally arthropods, not spiders at all. The eight-legged creatures especially abundant right now are Opiliones, or Harvestmen, which share the same overall name of Daddy Long Legs. Although they belong to the class of arachnids, harvestmen are not spiders, which are of the order Araneae rather than the order Opiliones.
As of December 2011, 6,500-plus species of harvestmen have been discovered worldwide, stated Adriano Kury in a paper about animal biodiversity, although the real number of the species may exceed 10,000.
Local Terminix exterminators said they are especially prevalent this summer, much like the recent challenges with Japanese beetles. One exterminator told Patch the only way to get rid of them is to spray or treat the areas for which they are unwanted.
Be mindful of Harvestmen's pungent odor; they have a pair of defensive scent glands (ozopores) that secrete a peculiar smelling fluid when disturbed.
Harvestmen are extremely old arachnids. Fossils from the Devonian Rhynie chert, 410 million years ago, show characteristics proving the group lived on land since that time, according to one online source. Environmentalists think Harvestmen are probably closely related to the scorpions. Opiliones remained almost unchanged morphologically over a long period, according to scientists. One species discovered in China, fossilized by fine grained volcanic ash around 165 million years ago, is hardly discernible from its modernday descendant and belongs to an existing family of Harvestman.