An ode to the female ‘Daddy Longlegs Spider’
Stella M. Turk MBE
I eyed the spider, and the spider eyed me
But what sort of image did each of us see?
She presumably only saw with her eight tiny eyes
A large threatening shadow that blocked out the skies.
And long before human speech was heard
This scared spider could confuse a hungry bird
By dissembling with very fast trembling
Or dropping like lead and ‘playing dead’.
I know her as a spider with an ancient pedigree
That travelled to Europe from a warmer country.
Shunning the cold she takes house pests as food
As she hangs upside-down and raises her brood
From eggs held in her jaws as a neat little batch
Which mean she can’t feed until all of them hatch
Its scientific name is Pholcus phalangoides, a cosmopolitan species. the distribution of which has been facilitated by humans. The male is slightly smaller that the female and has a shorter (?and gayer) life. span In the British Isles it is found only in buildings,whilst in mainland Europe, it also lives in caves.
It sits in its random web, weaving long silken strands across ceilings and walls House moths and flies are preyed on and it will even tackle the often more stoutly-built house soeder, Tegenaria.
Also called 'Daddy Long-legs' is the largest of the British craneflies - Tipula maxima.
Stella M Turk MBE