Do Daddy Long Legs bite?

Daddy long legs, also known as harvestmen, are a group of spider-like creatures that have very long legs compared to their bodies. Despite their intimidating appearance, daddy long legs do not bite or possess venom that is harmful to humans.

Quick Facts on Daddy Long Legs

Here are some key facts about daddy long legs:

  • Daddy long legs belong to the arachnid order Opiliones.
  • They have a round, compact body with extremely long, thin legs.
  • There are over 6,000 species of daddy long legs worldwide.
  • They are found on every continent except Antarctica.
  • Daddy long legs eat decomposing plant material, fungi, and small insects.
  • They do not spin webs to catch prey.
  • Their primary defense is to secrete noxious smelling fluid from scent glands.
  • Daddy long legs are not venomous and cannot bite humans.
  • Some species may have a weak venom used to subdue tiny prey, but this is not harmful to people.
  • They are not spiders, even though they resemble them.

Do Daddy Long Legs Have Mouths?

One of the most common myths surrounding daddy long legs is that they do not have mouths and therefore cannot bite. This is not true – daddy long legs do indeed have mouths and are capable of biting. However, their bites pose absolutely no danger to humans.

Like all arachnids, daddy long legs have two body parts – the abdomen and the combined head/chest area called the cephalothorax. At the front of the cephalothorax is the mouth, which consists of two sets of jaws known as chelicerae. These jaws are typically small and not strong enough to break human skin.

Daddy long legs mainly use their jaws to eat by crushing and liquifying the soft tissues of decaying matter and tiny insects. Their jaws are also useful for grooming behaviors. So while they are physically able to bite if threatened, their miniscule jaws cannot deliver bites that harm people.

Why Do People Think They Can’t Bite?

There are a few reasons why the myth that daddy long legs cannot bite has persisted:

  • Their jaws and mouthparts are very small and difficult to see without close inspection.
  • They are not aggressive creatures and rarely use their jaws defensively against humans who handle them.
  • When they feel threatened, their primary reaction is to flee rather than bite.
  • If they do attempt to bite in self-defense, their jaws are simply too weak to break human skin.
  • Many people assume all spiders and similar creatures are venomous, which is untrue.
  • Their long, spindly legs contribute to an appearance of fragility and harmlessness.

Additionally, different species with “daddy long legs” in their regional names has led to confusion. In some cases, people apply the daddy long legs label to crane flies or cellar spiders, which also have long legs but are separate species. Cellar spiders do have enough jaw strength and venom to bite humans, though their bites are not medically significant.

Are Daddy Long Legs Venomous?

Another common myth states that daddy long legs are the most venomous spiders in the world, but cannot bite humans due to their short jaws. Again, this is untrue for a few reasons:

  • Daddy long legs are not spiders, so they cannot possess venom like true spiders.
  • There is no scientific evidence that any daddy long legs species are dangerously venomous to humans.
  • While a few daddy long legs species may produce venom, it evolved for capturing microscopic prey not defense against humans.
  • Their jaws cannot deliver venom to humans even if they did possess extreme toxicity.
  • No records exist of daddy long legs causing medically significant envenomations.

This piece of daddy long legs folklore likely arose from observations that they can kill and eat highly venomous spiders like black widows. However, daddy long legs are immune to these spiders’ toxins, so this does not mean they themselves are venomous to humans.

Are Daddy Long Legs Dangerous?

In short, no – daddy long legs are not considered dangerous to humans in any way. Here are some key reasons why daddy long legs are harmless:

  • They have no venomous bite that can penetrate human skin.
  • Their jaws are simply too small and weak to bite through human skin.
  • There are no scientifically documented cases of daddy long legs biting and harming people.
  • They have no silk or web for trapping humans.
  • They do not carry diseases transmittable to humans.
  • Their legs are fragile and easily detached if grabbed forcefully.
  • Daddy long legs eatdecomposing plant material and tiny insects, not people.
  • They prefer to flee from humans by running away rather than biting.

In fact, daddy long legs are quite timid and fragile creatures that play no threat to human health or safety. They do not attack, and their miniscule jaws make a bite extremely unlikely. Many people even handle them bare-handed without ever being bitten.

What to Do if a Daddy Long Legs Bites You

The possibility of being bitten by a daddy long legs is extremely remote. Their jaws simply lack the strength to break human skin under normal circumstances. But on the rare chance one was able to manage a bite, here is what to do:

  1. Clean the bite area gently with soap and water.
  2. Apply an antiseptic cream to the site to prevent infection.
  3. Cover with a clean bandage if desired.
  4. Apply ice wrapped in cloth to reduce any swelling.
  5. Take an oral antihistamine containing diphenhydramine to relieve itching.
  6. Contact your doctor if any abnormal reaction develops.

Unless you experience a rare allergic response, the bite should resolve on its own within a few hours or days as with any tiny wound. Signs of infection like worsening pain, swelling, redness, and pus should be evaluated by your doctor.

Can Daddy Long Legs Kill You?

No, it is essentially impossible for a daddy long legs to kill a human being. There are a few compelling reasons why daddy long legs cannot kill:

  • No record exists of a daddy long legs causing human fatality.
  • They have no venom capable of causing death in humans.
  • Their jaws cannot generate enough force to puncture human skin.
  • There are no toxins in daddy long legs capable of causing a fatal reaction.
  • At worst, a bite may cause mild pain, redness, or swelling treatable with first aid.
  • Anaphylaxis would be the only conceivable fatal reaction, but this is exceedingly rare from a daddy long legs.
  • Daddy long legs are not aggressive and bites are unlikely.

In short, the notion that daddy long legs can kill a person is simply unfounded and false. Their biology and behavior make them innocuous to humans. While allergies can rarely cause severe reactions to insect bites of any kind, death specifically from a daddy long legs bite remains unheard of.

Do Daddy Long Legs Have Any Health Benefits?

There are no known health benefits to humans derived from daddy long legs. As arachnids, they contain no nutritional value or bioactive compounds that provide medicinal effects. Some potential health associations include:

  • Pest control – Daddy long legs may help control unwanted pests like aphids, flies, and roaches as part of their diet.
  • Lower pesticide use – The pest control benefits potentially support lower pesticide usage in crops and gardens when daddy long legs are present.
  • Ecological balance – As prey for birds, reptiles, and amphibians, daddy long legs remain part of the ecosystem’s intricate food web.
  • Bioindicators – Daddy long legs may serve as indicators of environmental health when present in normal numbers.

However, daddy long legs provide no direct health benefits to humans in the form of nutrition, medicine, or toxicity. Any positives are through indirect ecological relationships and their predation on human nuisance insects.

Key Takeaways on Daddy Long Legs and Biting

In summary, the main points to understand about daddy long legs biting and venom are:

  • Daddy long legs have small jaws capable of biting but are extremely unlikely to bite humans.
  • Their jaws lack the strength to break human skin under normal circumstances.
  • No scientific evidence indicates daddy long legs are dangerously venomous.
  • They produce no venom that can harm humans even if they did bite.
  • A daddy long legs bite may cause mild pain or swelling treatable with first aid.
  • Daddy long legs bites present essentially no danger to humans.

So while daddy long legs can physically bite, their limited jaw strength and lack of human-toxic venom means they pose no realistic biting hazard. Their reputation as harmless arachnids that do not bite humans remains well-earned.


In conclusion, daddy long legs should not be feared as biting pests or toxic spiders. While they can technically bite with their jaws, their chelicerae lack functional strength and venom potency to be any real danger. No evidence exists of daddy long legs biting causing significant harm, let alone human fatalities. Their reputation as harmless creatures is well-deserved, despite bite myths passed on through misinformation over many generations. In reality, daddy long legs play a benign role in their ecosystems and essentially ignore humans they may encounter.

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