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If you don't like spiders, you don't like harvestmen either. Not least because it seems that these animals are also spiders. You can find out here whether this is the case and whether Grandpa Longlegs is actually a spider.

In a nutshell

  • Harvestmen (Opiliones) are not real spiders
  • but they are arachnids (arachnida)
  • there are various differences and similarities
  • most striking distinguishing feature: body structure


Eight long legs, the same quick movements. It seems obvious that the harvestman is an arachnid. In fact, however, it does not belong to the order of the web spiders (Araneae), which includes the actual spiders. The harvestmen form their own order within the arachnids. If you take a closer look at the animals, you will also see obvious differences to other spiders.

What is striking is the lack of a subdivision into front and rear bodies in harvestmen (here: Phalangium opilio).

Notice: Arachnids also include scorpions, mites and pseudoscorpions.

way of life

The harvestman is nocturnal. He does not hunt larger insects, but microscopic creatures. Harvestmen also eat tiny bits of carrion. During the day and in winter they can gather in several specimens to rest. Especially when the sun is shining, they like to sit on warm house walls. Larger occurrences of the animals are also found in deciduous forests.

With their eight very long legs, they can move very quickly and nimbly. Since Grandpa Longlegs mostly lives on the ground, he needs to be able to run quickly between leaves and grass. For this purpose, the legs have several joints.


  • Body structure: spiders divided into front and rear bodies, harvestmen fused together
  • Number of eyes: harvestmen 2, spiders 6 to 8
  • Harvesters less well-fortified
  • only have stink glands
  • Spiders, on the other hand, have venom glands and powerful claws
  • also hunt larger insects
  • most spiders build webs that harvestmen cannot
Due to their similar physique, there is often confusion between harvestmen and electric spiders (here: electric electric spider (Pholcus phalangioides)).

Notice: Grandpa Langbein also differs from "real" spiders in terms of reproduction. For example, the gender differences are not that pronounced.

frequently asked Questions

Can harvestmen bite or sting?

They do have jawed claws, but these are too small to actually bite with them. In addition, they cannot sting and do not have poison glands.

Why do harvestmen lose a leg so quickly?

It is not advisable to want to pick up the harvestman by one leg in order to carry him out of the house. In most cases, the animal loses the leg. The reason for this is that it can shed legs to escape from any predators it may eat. That's why dropped legs move for a while.

Which spider looks most like the harvestman?

Grandpa Long Legs is most likely to be confused with trembling spiders, which also have very long legs and a compact-looking body. However, these live in buildings and only rarely outside.

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