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Who does not know them, the rather small and very long-legged spider. It can be found in the garden, dark cellars, garages and sometimes also in the house. There she marches through the area with a somewhat wobbly gait. In humans, the presence of these animals can cause a great deal of discomfort, while others have a real phobia of them. Admittedly, they don't look very pretty, but do they really pose a threat?


We are talking about harvestmen (opiliones), small spider-like animals, which are also known by the names cobblers, tailors, kanker or grandpa longlegs. Why now spider-like animals? Many people assume the appearance of these very small animals and are of the opinion that these are spiders. Well, at first glance they also look like real spiders, but in reality the harvestman is an arachnid, like scorpions or mites. They belong to the group of arthropod. The eight very long legs, which are up to twenty-five times longer than the actual body, are typical of these animals. In addition, they have many joints, up to 100 individual links and are therefore extraordinarily mobile and the animals are good on foot. Characteristic of the tailor are not only his oversized legs, which are immediately visible, but other features are:

  • Size from 5 to 22mm
  • round, small, one-piece body
  • Body color gray to brown
  • sometimes patterns on the back
  • two jaw buttons in the mouth area (pedipalps)
  • only two eyes
  • stinky glands

The difference from a normal spider is that

  • the front and rear body has grown together,
  • she only has two eyes instead of eight,
  • no spinning glands are present and
  • male arachnids have a penis.

notice: Due to the lack of spinning glands, the harvestman cannot weave threads and webs to catch prey like a spider.

Kanker in the house

In the wild, the arachnid can often be found in meadows, in the forest, on trees and bushes and on the ground. Rock crevices and house walls are also popular destinations for excursions, and if possible, they also try to get into the house and apartment. The harvestman is also found in particularly high numbers in abandoned houses, cellars and overgrown gardens. However, even well-kept gardens are not really spared from its presence.

The animals are very good climbing master. Each leg can easily wrap around twigs and blades of grass. This is how they skilfully get from plant to plant and onto trees and bushes. Even open windows in the house or apartment are not a problem for them.

Usually are Opiliones loner and mostly crepuscular and nocturnal. They like to spend the day in so-called quiet communities. Several thousand arachnids can sometimes be found here. They can only be driven apart by disturbances.

Are harvestmen poisonous?

Unlike the real spiders, the arachnids are not poisonous. They pose no danger to people or pets. you own no venom glands. There are only outlet openings on the front back, the so-called stinky glands. In them, a defensive secretion, a foul-smelling secretion, is produced and secreted. However, it is only for your own protection against attacks predators such as insects and spiders or escapes when pressure is applied to the body. Depending on the level of concentration, it can either only paralyze the enemies or, in the worst case, kill them.

However, humans and pets need not fear a harvestman's bite, because the tiny jaw claws, also known as chelicerae, are too weak to penetrate the skin. They are usually only used for groping, catching and picking up prey. Even though the weir secretion can be poisonous to arachnid enemies, there is no danger to human health.

notice: When attacked by enemies, the Harvesters are able to simply snap off a leg to distract their attackers. Then they can escape. However, the leg does not grow back.

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