Spiders have an exoskeleton. As they grow, the exoskeleton becomes too small and splits open and the new and improved spider leaves it behind. We do not kill spiders at my house – ever. So, as you can imagine, I run across quite a few exoskeletons. This batch of “Daddy-Long-Legs”, aka Skull Spiders (Pholcus phalangioides)was found during my last major cleaning sweep. It was in a wreath hanging over the fireplace which hadn’t been touched since last winter. They are tiny, maybe a centimeter across, and look like spider ghosts – make sure you enlarge the photo to full size for full impact. Very awesome.
It has long been believed, even by myself, that they are one of the most venomous spiders but are not dangerous to humans because they cannot pierce skin with their fangs. This has been proven false, thanks to the crew at Myth Busters.
It is true that they eat other spiders, which is why I leave mine alone. They are also quite skilled at catching flies and mosquitoes that make it into the house. They really earn their keep in late summer when the crane flies (we call them mosquito hawks) are in full swing. They don’t bite humans but they are big and gross and I’m eternally grateful to the spider I see has caught one.
It may seem kind of gross to think of all those spiders running loose in my house, but really there aren’t that many because when you leave Mother Nature alone, she manages to balance those things out. If there isn’t anything around for a Daddy-Long-Legs to eat, it will eat another Daddy-Long-Legs. Besides, I would rather have a lovely spider hanging out in the corner of the ceiling than breathing in a bunch of pesticide. Also, the ‘catch and release’ program is much better than killing something that doesn’t deserve to die. Hopefully I didn’t give anybody the creeps today!