Pholcus phalangioides

Daddy Long-legs Spider Pholcus phalangioides

Pholcus phalangioides by Martin Atkins
Pholcus phalangioides by Martin Atkins

High up where the ceiling meets the wall, fine tangles of web are often the bane of the householder. Suspended upside down in these fine silken strands is a long-legged spider, Pholcus phalangioides, the Daddy Long-legs Spider. During the day they remain perfectly still and are usually ignored by people. If disturbed, however, they will rapidly vibrate up and down in the web. They are only found inside buildings, particularly in southern England. At night, males go in search of females. When a female is detected, the male gently vibrates her web and after some time approaches very slowly before attempting to mate.

Pholcus catches any unwary insect that gets caught in the web and quickly trusses it up in a bundle of silk. Pholcus will also feed on other spiders that come in range, including their own kind. Having long legs is an advantage when dealing with potentially dangerous prey because Pholcus can draw threads from her spinnerets and flick them at the intruder from a distance. At the same time, the spider keeps itself well away from any danger. Once they are bound up, Pholcus bites its victim. Females can be seen with their eggs held between their chelicerae (jaws). The spiderlings that hatch stay around their mother's web. As they grow and moult they move further apart for, should one find another, it will eat its brother or sister.

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