Mummy long-legs

Daddy long-legs spider with hatchlings
Daddy long-legs spider (Pholcidae) with hatchlings

I have known ‘Daddy long-legs’ spiders as long as I can remember. They are small-bodied and long-legged, and they make themselves at home in similar locations to the House spider I wrote about recently. I have had a close-up view of their family life over the last week or two: the group in my photo are in residence under a shelf just 30 cm above and behind my computer screen. I look up – and there they are. All the time. Doing almost nothing, as far as I can see.

I first noticed the babies on May 7 – two weeks ago – and they have stayed beside their mother ever since. They have gradually spread out, especially in the last few days, but many are still within 20 cm of her. What look like skeletons in the lower picture are not, so far as I know, signs of infanticide. Spiders moult their skins (really external skeletons, ‘exoskeletons’) as they grow and I’m pretty sure that we are seeing cast off exoskeletons. The first picture was taken on May 9, the second on May 15.

For more about the family, check out their page onĀ Arachne.org.au, a wonderful new Aussie spider site.

Daddy long-legs spider (Pholcidae) with hatchlings
Daddy long-legs spider (Pholcidae) with hatchlings

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