Mr. Nature: Daddy Long-Legs

Jambo! Today our safari takes us to the foundation of your house, where we see spiders crawling on the walls. Almost everybody thinks they’re spiders, and knows them well as “daddy long-legs.” But they’re actually very different from spiders.

There are over 6,000 species of these critters, found all over the world. If you’ve ever turned over a rotten old board and found a thousand red daddy long-legs under it, don’t worry: these animals have no power to harm us in any way.

I find it fascinating that both the male and female daddy long-legs take care of their eggs and hatchlings.

On the whole, they’re rather nice. Be kind to them.

And Here Come the Tarantulas

[Here we come, walkin’ down the street/ Freakin’ out everyone we meet…]

So you think your town’s got troubles?

The town of Maningrida in Northwest Territory, Australia, has been invaded by 25,000 “diving tarantulas” that can live underwater, bite you real bad, and make you quite sick ( ). I don’t know who sat down and counted them; suffice it to say that a huge herd of very large spiders came creeping over a nice, flat, flood plain where everyone could see them, heading for the town.

Crikey, mate–here comes trouble!

Australia has several species of large, hairy spiders, one of which has a bite that can kill a human being–“Atrax is the poisonous Funnelweb Spider of Australia,” according to my “Spiders and Their Kin” field guide. You can see they don’t call me Mr. Nature for nothing.

Does our language even have a word for a huge army of spiders?

If you see such an army heading for your town, please redirect it to Washington, D.C.

The Audacious Jumping Spider

Hi, Mr. Nature here, with more of God’s stuff that always works.

If your garden is blessed, it may be inhabited by one or more of these, the Audacious Jumping Spider, Phidippus audax. They hunt harmful insects by sight, and to catch them when they see them, they jump. If you look closely at the spider in the video, you’ll be able to see her two largest eyes (she has a couple of smaller ones, too).

The “audacious” tag is a misnomer. When one of these spiders sees you coming, he or she will promptly seek a hiding place. I like that quality in a spider. I wish more people had it.