These days, the word “daddy” followed by “long-legs” sounds more like a description of Jeff Goldblum than a colloquial title for a kind of arachnid. The truth is, everything you think you know about these eight-legged fellows might be wrong. When most people think of daddy long-legs, they probably think of the leggy brown pillbox with a mix of terror and adoration. These are Opiliones, also known as harvestmen. And while they are arachnids, they’re actually a completely separate order from spiders, with just one pair of eyes and no silk to be spun. National Geographic says that the roughly 6,500 species of harvestmen are more closely related to scorpions.
These are indeed daddy long-legs, but despite the terror they may inspire in you, they’re actually completely harmless. You’ll find these guys and gals all over the world, usually just scavenging plant and animal matter. While they do secrete an odorous chemical to deter being eaten, they have no fangs and no venom — and are therefore not poisonous. They’re a pretty chill group.
But if you thought there was only one kind of daddy double-L, well — you better sit down. There are also Pholcidae, more commonly known as cellar spiders, which are a family in the order Araneae. These are also commonly called daddy long-legs, and they are venomous, but they don’t actually pose a threat to humans. In fact, the myth that these daddies have some of the most potent venom in the world but can’t bite humans was busted by none other than the Mythbusters. They found that while cellar spiders can bite humans, all it does is deliver a very mild burning sensation for a second or two.
Moreover, cellar spiders will also do their darndest to keep to themselves. They really just want to eat insects, which can actually make them the kind of bug you want to have around in order to control the more nasty types of creepy crawlers.
So, with both harvestmen and cellar spiders, both daddy-long legs(es), there’s nothing to fear. Regardless of whether they’re in your garden, basement or cellar, they’re not going to mess with you. Less baddies and more daddies. Everybody wins.