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 photo P1020719_zpsdqx5evvp.jpg
I done screwed up. Fewer than 50 entries in I already posted a double, adding a second cellar spider entry at #48 when there was an existing one at #2.

To make up for my blunder, here is a different animal which sometimes shares a common name with the former #48: "daddy long legs." These omnivorous scavenging arachnids are very different creatures, and separate from spiders, in their own order, Opiliones.* When someone refers to one of these things as a spider, I mark it in my brain as a very particular kind of flag. Mistaking this fragile fangless beast with its fused body segments and mite-like overall symmetry for a spiders tells me that you aren't looking at the same aspects of the animal that I am. The fact that one of my arachnophobic coworkers is afraid of Opiliones as well, is fascinating to me.

This animal suffers from common names both overabundant and entirely inadequate. Most guides settle on "harvestman," a word that's never settled well with me. "Opiliones" is a mouthful, and "daddy-longlegs" refers to several unrelated animals and is spelled differently every time you look at it.

* "Opiliones" derives from a word for shepherd. Apparently at some point of time and space sheep-herders stood on stilts to watch their flocks? I don't even want to know what the justification for the word "harvestman" is.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 2nd, 2015 04:02 pm (UTC)
I call them harvestmen, and always assumed they were spiders. I have noticed that there are two slightly different looking things which I call the same name though. There's that one in your picture, and another thing which lives in same places as that one (the corners of all my rooms) and is that same size and gives a similar overall impression, but has a perfectly spherical body.
Jun. 2nd, 2015 07:25 pm (UTC)
Thanks to QI (Stephen Fry's fabulous quiz show) I know that French shepherds did, indeed use stilts while herding sheep.

Here are some links:



and this one, because the illustration is lovely:

Jun. 2nd, 2015 10:16 pm (UTC)
Okay that's super interesting. Over at tumblr I was informed that "harvestman" came from the fact that they were more common during the harvest season.
Jun. 3rd, 2015 01:18 am (UTC)
Daddy long legs. That's what I've always known them as. They creep me out in large numbers, but nope, not nearly as terrifying to my arachnophobic self. I used to be a lot more freaked out by them... The fascinating thing about phobias is they are hard to explain. I know ticks are not spiders, and of course they are still gross in their own right, but if I see them scrambling they scare me a whole lot more than when sitting or engorged., and in the same way that I freak when I see a spider. Also, still spiders, like argiope, do t concern me nearly so much as moving ones, or ones that put their webs in inconvenient places where I am likely to encounter them...
Jun. 3rd, 2015 10:57 pm (UTC)
I'm not crazy about this creature either, although I can handle the spindly-legged spiders way better than anything with fur. (god my hands sweat just writing that) As this is spindly-legged, it's far less terrifying.

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


The Urban Pantheist

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