Harvestman (Phalangium opilio) male

Harvestman (Phalangium opilio) ©Paul Richards

Harvestman (Phalangium opilio) female

Harvestman (Phalangium opilio) ©Paul Richards

Harvestman (Phalangium opilio) male

Harvestman (Phalangium opilio) ©Paul Richards

Common Harvestman

Scientific name: Phalangium opilio
The Common Harvestman is familiar to us as the large, spindly spider-like creature that frequents gardens and houses. It predates on smaller invertebrates which it catches using hooks on the ends of its legs.

Species information

Statistics

Body length: up to 8mm
Leg span: up to 5cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

January to December

About

The Common Harvestman is familiar to us as the long-legged, small-bodied spider-like creature that frequents gardens and houses. Harvestmen are a common and widespread group of long-legged invertebrates and about 25 species live in the UK. They are arachnids, related to spiders and scorpions. Many are predators, eating smaller invertebrates which they catch using hooks at the ends of their legs. However, some species are omnivorous and will scavenge anything they can find, from fruit to fungi. Harvestmen can be found in leaf litter, among foliage and in grass in a wide variety of habitats.

How to identify

As a group, harvestmen are easy to identify: they have eight very long, spindly legs and a small, round body without a 'waist'. Telling the different species apart is much more difficult. The Common Harvestman is reddish-brown on top and white below; females are larger than males. The fangs are quite prominent.

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

Unlike spiders, harvestmen do not spin silk and do not produce venom. If they lose a leg, they do not regrow it like other arachnids.

How people can help

Our gardens are a vital resource for wildlife, providing corridors of green space between open countryside, allowing species to move about. In fact, the UK's gardens provide more space for nature than all the National Nature Reserves put together. So why not try planting native plants and trees to entice birds, mammals and invertebrates into your backyard? To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.