Insects and their Allies  

Opiliones: harvestmen


Harvestmen are usually less than 1 centimetre in body length however they can often have very long legs and are sometimes called 'daddy-long-legs'. They are commonly mistaken for spiders and should not be confused with the house-loving spider, which is often also known as a 'daddy-long-legs'. Harvestmen can be distinguished from spiders by the following features:

Life Cycle
Male harvestmen have an elongated penis that enables direct copulation with females. Females have an ovipositor and after fertilisation will lay their eggs into crevices in the soil. When the young harvestmen hatch they resemble small adults and will moult several times before reaching maturity.

  • Only 1 pair of eyes which may appear to be mounted on stalks
  • Long spindly legs
  • Do not have a waist and therefore appear to have only one body segment
  • Do not have silk glands or spinnerets and cannot produce silk

Most species of harvestmen feed on other invertebrates although some consume plant matter. Others are scavengers and will feed on the carcasses of dead birds or mammals.

Harvestmen are most commonly found throughout the damper regions of Australia although some species have adapted to life in the more arid regions of the country. Most live in moist leaf litter but can also be found living under rocks and logs or under the bark of trees.