The Full Wiki

Pholcidae: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pholcus phalangioides
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Suborder: Araneomorphae
Superfamily: Pholcoidea
Family: Pholcidae
C. L. Koch, 1851

 many others

80 genera, c. 1000 species

The Pholcidae are a spider family in the suborder Araneomorphae.

Some species, especially Pholcus phalangioides, are commonly called granddaddy long-legs spider, daddy long-legs spider, daddy long-legger, cellar spider, vibrating spider, or house spider. Confusion often arises because the name "daddy long-legs" is also applied to two distantly related arthropod groups: the harvestmen (which are arachnids but not spiders), and crane flies (which are insects).



Pholcids are fragile spiders, the body being 2–10 mm in length with legs which may be up to 50 mm long. Pholcus and Smeringopus have cylindrical abdomens and the eyes are arranged in two lateral groups of three and two smaller median contiguous eyes. Eight and six eyes both occur in this family. Spermophora has a small globose abdomen and its eyes are arranged in two groups of three and no median eyes. Pholcids are gray to brown with banding or chevron markings. The shape of the Pholcus and Smeringopus's body resembles that of a peanut shell.


Pholcids are web-weaving spiders and are distributed worldwide. They hang inverted in messy, irregular, tangled webs. These webs are constructed in dark and damp recesses, in caves, under rocks and loose bark, abandoned mammal burrows in undisturbed areas in buildings and cellars, hence the common name "cellar spiders". However, Pholcids are also quite commonly found in warm, dry places, such as household windows and attics.



The web has no adhesive properties but the irregular structure traps insects, making escape difficult. The spider quickly envelops its prey with silk and then inflicts the fatal bite. The prey may be eaten immediately or stored for later.

Threat Response

When the spider is threatened by a touch to the web or when too large a prey becomes entangled, the spider vibrates rapidly in a gyrating motion in its web and becomes blurred, almost invisible.[citation needed] For this reason pholcids have sometimes been called "vibrating spiders", although they are not the only species to exhibit this behaviour. Doing so might make it difficult for a predator to see exactly where the spider is, may be intended to signal an assumed rival to leave, or may increase the chances of capturing insects that have just brushed their web and are still hovering nearby [1]. If the spider continues to feel harassed it will retreat into a corner or drop from its web, and leave the harasser alone.


Certain species of these seemingly benign spiders invade webs of other spiders and eat the host, the eggs or the prey. In some cases the spider vibrates the web of other spiders, mimicking the struggle of trapped prey to lure the host of the web closer. Pholcids are natural predators of the Tegenaria species, and are known to attack and eat redback spiders and huntsman spiders [2][3]. It is this competition that helps keep Tegenaria populations in check, which may be advantageous to humans who live in regions with dense hobo spider populations.[citation needed]

Close-up of a Cellar spider's head, showing two groups of three closely clustered eyes


Pholcus phalangioides often uses an alternating tetrapod gait (first right leg, then second left leg, then third right leg, etc.), which is commonly found in many spider species. However, frequent variations from this pattern have been documented during observations of the spiders’ movements. When not in their webs, pholcids walk with an unsteady, bobbing action.[citation needed]


For a complete list of the genera and species in this family, see List of Pholcidae species.

The categorization into subfamilies follows Joel Hallan's Biology Catalog [4].

  • Artema Walckenaer, 1837
  • Aymaria Huber, 2000
  • Cenemus Saaristo, 2001
  • Ceratopholcus Spassky, 1934
  • Crossopriza Simon, 1893
  • Holocnemus Simon, 1873
  • Hoplopholcus Kulczyn'ski, 1908
  • Ixchela Huber, 2000
  • Physocyclus Simon, 1893
  • Priscula Simon, 1893
  • Smeringopus Simon, 1890
  • Stygopholcus Absolon & Kratochvíl, 1932
  • Wugigarra Huber, 2001
  • Modisiminae (New World group)
  • Blancoa Huber, 2000
  • Bryantina Brignoli, 1985
  • Canaima Huber, 2000
  • Carapoia González-Sponga, 1998
  • Chibchea Huber, 2000
  • Coryssocnemis Simon, 1893
  • Kaliana Huber, 2000
  • Litoporus Simon, 1893
  • Mecolaesthus Simon, 1893
  • Mesabolivar González-Sponga, 1998
  • Modisimus Simon, 1893
  • Otavaloa Huber, 2000
  • Pisaboa Huber, 2000
  • Pomboa Huber, 2000
  • Psilochorus Simon, 1893
  • Stenosfemuraia González-Sponga, 1998
  • Systenita Simon, 1893
  • Tainonia Huber, 2000
  • Teuia Huber, 2000
  • Tupigea Huber, 2000
  • Waunana Huber, 2000
  • Ninetinae (not monophyletic)
  • Aucana Huber, 2000
  • Chisosa Huber, 2000
  • Enetea Huber, 2000
  • Galapa Huber, 2000
  • Gertschiola Brignoli, 1981
  • Guaranita Huber, 2000
  • Ibotyporanga Mello-Leitão, 1944
  • Kambiwa Huber, 2000
  • Mystes Bristowe, 1938
  • Nerudia Huber, 2000
  • Ninetis Simon, 1890
  • Nita Huber & El-Hennawy, 2007
  • Papiamenta Huber, 2000
  • Pholcophora Banks, 1896
  • Tolteca Huber, 2000
  • Pholcinae C. L. Koch, 1851
  • Aetana Huber, 2005
  • Anansus Huber, 2007
  • Anopsicus Chamberlin & Ivie, 1938
  • Belisana Thorell, 1898
  • Buitinga Huber, 2003
  • Calapnita Simon, 1892
  • Khorata Huber, 2005
  • Leptopholcus Simon, 1893
  • Metagonia Simon, 1893
  • Micromerys Bradley, 1877
  • Nyikoa Huber, 2007
  • Ossinissa Dimitrov & Ribera, 2005
  • Panjange Deeleman-Reinhold & Deeleman, 1983
  • Paramicromerys Millot, 1946
  • Pholcus Walckenaer, 1805
  • Quamtana Huber, 2003
  • Savarna Huber, 2005
  • Smeringopina Kraus, 1957
  • Spermophora Hentz, 1841
  • Spermophorides Wunderlich, 1992
  • Uthina Simon, 1893
  • Wanniyala Huber & Benjamin, 2005
  • Zatavua Huber, 2003
  • Carupania González-Sponga, 2003
  • Ciboneya Pérez, 2001
  • Falconia González-Sponga, 2003
  • Holocneminus Berland, 1942
  • Micropholcus Deeleman-Reinhold & Prinsen, 1987
  • Pehrforsskalia Deeleman-Reinhold & van Harten, 2001
  • Pholciella Roewer, 1960
  • Pholcoides Roewer, 1960
  • Queliceria González-Sponga, 2003
  • Sanluisi González-Sponga, 2003
  • Tibetia Zhang, Zhu & Song, 2006
  • Trichocyclus Simon, 1908


There is an urban legend stating that daddy long-legs spiders have the most potent venom of any spider, but that their chelicerae (fangs) are either too small or too weak to puncture human skin; the same legend is also repeated of the harvestman and crane fly, also called "daddy long-legs" in some locales. Indeed, pholcid spiders do have a short fang structure (called uncate). However, brown recluse spiders also have uncate fang structure, but are able to deliver medically significant bites. Either pholcid venom is not toxic to humans or there is a musculature difference between the two arachnids, with recluses, being hunting spiders, possessing stronger muscles for fang penetration.[5]

In 2004, the Discovery Channel show MythBusters set out to test the daddy long-legs myth (Season 1, Episode 13 "Buried in Concrete"). After measuring the spider's fangs at approximately 0.25 mm (average human skin thickness varies from about 0.5mm to 4mm), the show's host was apparently bitten, although the bite produced little more than a mild short-lived burning sensation. This appears to confirm the suspicion that pholcids can penetrate human skin, but that their venom is practically harmless to humans. Additionally, recent research by Alan Van Dyke has shown that pholcid venom is actually relatively weak in its effects on insects as well.[6].

According to the University of California at Riverside, the daddy long-legs spider has never harmed a human and there is no evidence that they are dangerous to humans.[7]

The urban legend ostensibly stems from the fact that the daddy long-legs spider is known to prey upon deadly venomous spiders, such as the redback, a member of the black widow genus Latrodectus.[8] By extrapolation, it was thought that if the daddy long-legs spider could regularly kill a spider capable of delivering fatal bites to humans, then it must be more venomous, and the uncate fangs were accused of prohibiting it from killing people.[9] In reality, it is merely quicker than the redback.[10]


  1. ^ Bruce Marlin (2006-04-25). "Video of the "vibrating spider" vibrating" (QuickTime Movie). 
  2. ^ "Daddy Long Legs". Queensland Museum. 
  3. ^ Wim van Egmond. "Pholcus phalangioides, the daddy-long-legs spider, in 3D". 
  4. ^ Joel Hallan (2005-03-07). "Synopsis of the described Araneae of the world". Texas A&M University. 
  5. ^ "Daddy Long Legs Site on UCR". 
  6. ^ "The Spider Myths Site". Burke Museum. 2005-05-12. 
  7. ^ Spider Myths-DaddyLongLegs
  8. ^ "FAMILY PHOLCIDAE - Daddy long-leg Spiders". Brisbane Insects and Spiders: The Expression of our Love of Nature. 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-13. 
  9. ^ "How to Kill a Venomous Spider". wikiHow. Retrieved 2009-11-13. 
  10. ^ "Daddy Longlegs". Tooter4Kids. Retrieved 2009-11-13. 
  • Pinto-da-Rocha, R., Machado, G. & Giribet, G. (eds.) (2007): Harvestmen - The Biology of Opiliones. Harvard University Press ISBN 0-674-02343-9
  • Platnick, Norman I. (2009): The world spider catalog, version 9.5. American Museum of Natural History.

External links


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies


Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Protostomia
Cladus: Ecdysozoa
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Classis: Arachnida
Ordo: Araneae
Subordo: Opisthothelae
Infraordo: Araneomorphae
Taxon: Neocribellatae
Series: Haplogynae
Superfamilia: Pholcoidea
Familia: Pholcidae
Subfamiliae: Holocneminae - Modisiminae[1] - Ninetinae[2] - Pholcinae - incertae sedis

Genera overview: Aetana - Anansus - Anopsicus - Artema - Aucana - Aymaria - Belisana - Blancoa - Buitinga - Calapnita - Canaima - Carapoia - Carupania - Cenemus - Ceratopholcus - Chibchea - Chisosa - Ciboneya - Coryssocnemis - Crossopriza - Enetea - Galapa - Gertschiola - Guaranita - Holocneminus - Holocnemus - Hoplopholcus - Ibotyporanga - Ixchela - Kambiwa - Khorata - Leptopholcus - Litoporus - Mecolaesthus - Mesabolivar - Metagonia - Micromerys - Micropholcus - Modisimus - Mystes - Nerudia - Ninetis - Nita - Nyikoa - Ossinissa - Otavaloa - Panjange - Papiamenta - Paramicromerys - Pehrforsskalia - Pholcophora - Pholcus - Physocyclus - Pisaboa - Platnicknia - Pomboa - Priscula - Psilochorus - Quamtana - Queliceria - Sanluisi - Savarna - Smeringopina - Smeringopus - Spermophora - Spermophorides - Stenosfemuraia - Stygopholcus - Systenita - Tainonia - Teuia - Tibetia - Tolteca - Trichocyclus - Tupigea - Uthina - Venezuela - Wanniyala - Waunana - Wugigarra - Zatavua


Pholcidae C. L. Koch, 1851


  • Beatty, Joseph A. , James W. Berry & Bernhard A. Huber, 2008, The pholcid spiders of Micronesia and Polynesia (Araneae, Pholcidae), The Journal of Arachnology 36: 1-25. [1]
  • Huber, B. A. 2000. New World pholcid spiders (Araneae: Pholcidae): A revision at generic level. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 254: 1-348. PDF
  • Huber, B. A. 2001. The pholcids of Australia (Araneae; Pholcidae): taxonomy, biogeography, and relationships. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 260: 1-144. PDF
  • Huber, B.A. 2009: Four new generic and 14 new specific synonymies in Pholcidae, and transfer of Pholcoides Roewer to Filistatidae (Araneae). Zootaxa, 1970: 64-68.
  • Bruvo-Mađarić, B., B. A. Huber, A. Steinacher, G. Pass. 2005. Phylogeny of pholcid spiders (Araneae: Pholcidae): Combined analysis using morphology and molecules. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 37: 661-673. PDF
  • Huber, B. A. —. Catalogue of Pholcid Spiders. [2]
  • Platnick, N. I. 2009. The World Spider Catalog, version 9.5. American Museum of Natural History. [3]


  1.  ?Not monophyletic (Bruvo-Mađarić et. al., 2005)
  2. Not monophyletic (Bruvo-Mađarić et. al., 2005)

Vernacular names

English: Daddy long-legs spider
한국어: 유령거미과
日本語: ユウレイグモ科
Русский: Пауки-сенокосцы / Пауки-долгоножки
Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Pholcidae on Wikimedia Commons.

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address