It’s fall, which means arachnids out in full force, creepily stalking their next meal. And people may notice more of one particular spider crawling around their homes—the daddy long leg spider. But Karl Curtis, the director of reserves and community engagement at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, wants everyone to hear one piece of advice. Don’t kill them!
Curtis isn’t telling you to ignore your arachnophobia and let spiders overtake your home. What he wants you to know is that more often than not, you’re mistaking a crane fly for a daddy long legs. That’s right, the giant bugs you’re seeing are harmless. Though, we should note that unless you’re the size of an ant, daddy long legs are also harmless. They aren’t poisonous, and they don’t bite. So maybe let the arachnids live too.
“[Crane flies] often get confused with spiders but they’re not, they’re flies,” Curtis told The Sun. “They’re a really good food source for birds, they’re really important to play their part so people should let them out their windows and not kill them.”
Late summer and fall are prime crane fly mating and hatching seasons. So the bugs seem to be everywhere.
“They are out this time of year because basically,” he continued. “They are hatching out of our lawns and various places – they live a lot of their lives underground as a grub, as a larva, and then what they do is they hatch out over the summer. Probably now is the last throw of the dice, and what they do is they come out and looking to mate, lay eggs back into vegetation, and then they die off.”
If you see a long-legged creature on your wall, check it out before you panic. You can easily spot crane flies because they only have six legs and two eyes. While daddy long legs, also known as harvestman spiders, have eight legs and eight-eyed.
Why There Seems to Be More Spiders This Year
For those of you who swear you’re seeing more spiders than usual this fall, we have good news for you. Arachnids are not taking over the world. They’re just more noticeable in the fall.
Anne Danielson-Francois, associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, spoke with USA Today to put everyone’s minds at ease.
“There’s this misguided perception that all of a sudden there are many more spiders than there used to be but, you know, that’s not the case,” she said. “They’re just more noticeable because the males are moving around.”
The reason they’re running around more is that they mate in September and October. And the females are waiting for the manly spiders to visit their webs.
“Females give off a chemical called a pheromone, a kind of perfume, which the males can sense with special hairs on their legs. The wandering males are basically sniffing around for a mature female,” Dunlop, a researcher for Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin shared with USA Today.
And furthermore, Danielson-Francois urges everyone to leave the critters alone. They’re not coming out of the woodwork to attack you. The eight-legged guys have one thing on their minds. And we promise that thing is not you.
“People shouldn’t panic and call a pest control agency,” she said. “They’re not interested in setting up shop in the house.”