Cellar Spiders: Understanding Their Behavior and Habits
Cellar spiders, also known as daddy longlegs or cellar spiders, are a common sight in homes and buildings around the world. These long-legged arachnids are often found in dark, damp places such as basements, cellars, and crawl spaces. While their appearance may be intimidating to some, cellar spiders are actually harmless and can even be beneficial to have around. In this article, we will delve into the behavior and habits of these fascinating creatures.
Behavior and Characteristics
Cellar spiders belong to the family Pholcidae and are characterized by their long, thin legs and small bodies. They have a unique ability to vibrate their web when disturbed, making it difficult for predators to see them. This behavior, known as "web shaking," is thought to confuse potential threats and deter them from attacking.
These spiders are nocturnal, meaning they are most active during the night. During the day, they will retreat to dark corners or crevices in their webs, where they wait patiently for prey to become entangled. Cellar spiders primarily feed on small insects, such as mosquitoes, flies, and ants. They use their silk to build irregular, messy webs that hang vertically, often spanning several feet in length. These webs serve as both hunting traps and protective shelters.
Reproduction and Lifespan
Cellar spiders have a unique courtship behavior. The male will first construct a small web near the female's web and deposit a sperm-containing package called a spermatophore. He then uses his legs to transfer the spermatophore to the female, who will store it until she is ready to lay eggs. After fertilization, the female will create a round egg sac, which she will guard and protect until the spiderlings hatch.
The lifespan of a cellar spider can vary, but typically ranges from one to three years. During this time, they can produce multiple generations, with females often reusing their webs to lay additional egg sacs. This ability to reproduce quickly and adapt to various environments allows cellar spiders to thrive in many different habitats.
Benefits and Ecological Role
Contrary to popular belief, cellar spiders are not harmful to humans. They do not possess venom glands and are incapable of biting through human skin. In fact, they can be considered beneficial as they help control populations of nuisance insects in homes and buildings. By trapping and consuming mosquitoes, flies, and other pests, cellar spiders act as natural pest control agents, reducing the need for chemical insecticides.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
1. Are cellar spiders poisonous?
No, cellar spiders are not poisonous. They do not have venom glands and are harmless to humans.
2. Can cellar spiders bite?
While cellar spiders have the ability to bite, their fangs are too small to pierce human skin. Even if they were to bite, it would not cause any harm.
3. How can I prevent cellar spiders from entering my home?
To prevent cellar spiders from entering your home, make sure all cracks and crevices are sealed, and keep your living spaces clean and clutter-free. Regularly remove spider webs to discourage their presence.
4. Are cellar spiders attracted to light?
No, cellar spiders are not attracted to light. They prefer dark and damp areas, such as basements and crawl spaces.
5. Can I relocate cellar spiders outside?
While it is possible to relocate cellar spiders outside, it is often unnecessary as they are harmless and beneficial. Instead, focus on sealing entry points and reducing their food sources.
6. Are daddy longlegs and cellar spiders the same?
The term "daddy longlegs" is often used to refer to both cellar spiders and harvestmen. However, they are different creatures. Cellar spiders are true spiders, while harvestmen are arachnids but not spiders.
7. Do cellar spiders build their webs in bathrooms?
It is not uncommon to find cellar spiders in bathrooms, as they are attracted to moisture. They may spin their webs in corners or near light fixtures.
8. Can cellar spiders harm my pets?
No, cellar spiders are not harmful to pets. They do not possess venom glands and are incapable of causing harm through bites.
9. Do cellar spiders live in groups?
Cellar spiders are not social creatures and typically lead solitary lives. However, it is possible to find multiple spiders inhabiting the same area if conditions are suitable.
10. How can I discourage cellar spiders from spinning webs in my home?
Regularly remove spider webs with a broom or vacuum cleaner to discourage cellar spiders from spinning webs in your home. Additionally, reduce the presence of their prey by keeping your living spaces clean and well-maintained.
In conclusion, cellar spiders are fascinating creatures that play a beneficial role in our ecosystems. Understanding their behavior and habits can help us appreciate their presence and the natural pest control services they provide. With their harmless nature and unique adaptations, these long-legged arachnids should be seen as allies rather than a cause for concern.