Pholcus phalangioides – a kitchen-variety alien

There are people with telescopes and various recording devices constantly scanning the skies, convinced that there must be alien eyes watching us.  Some believe in friendly ET type aliens, while others fret about the less friendly Mars Attacks variety.  Either way, beings constructed to the same general scale and with the same basic bipedal design as humankind.

Which makes very little sense.  Five minutes wandering through any suburban garden, even on a cool winter’s day, and you’ll discover a dozen quite different systems to solve the biological problem of moving around, feeding, communicating, creating offspring, and all the other necessary life-tasks.

Alien eyes are watching us, and using other mysterious sense organs to gather information.

Daddy Longlegs is a name given to several quite different creatures, including crane flies and harvestmen.  Daddy Longlegs spiders create messy webs that hang in long trails and collect dust, exposing my sloppy housekeeping.  These webs aren’t sticky, and basically work by tripping up and entangling passing creatures, giving the spiders time to wrap up and bite the hapless bumblers.

Known in the US as Cellar Spiders, since they like to live indoors, and can breed undisturbed in cozy basements, they are also called “skull spiders”, because of a vague resemblance to a skull in the round head shape and three clumps of eyes.  I can sort of see it.

Daddy Longlegs spider

One urban legend claims that Pholcidae are the most venomous spiders in the world (even accumulating venom from their habit of eating other spiders), but are harmless to humans because its fangs cannot penetrate human skin.  An episode of Mythbusters explored and exploded this myth, their bite does penetrate skin, but their venom is fairly mild.

Daddy Longlegs spider




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