Posts Tagged ‘opiliones’

Daddy longlegs have a single pair of eyes, oriented sideways, in the middle of their heads and it’s a little disconcerting to peer through a macro lens and see one of these eyes looking toward you. Daddy longlegs (also known as harvestmen) belong to the arachnid family, but are not spiders. Harvestmen make up the order Opiliones and, according to Wikipedia, there may be as many as ten thousand species of harvestmen worldwide, with over 6500 already discovered.

I cropped the first shot of the harvestman to allow you to see the eyes better, but it doesn’t really give you a sense of the length of the legs. The second shot, which is actually a less-cropped version of the first one, shows you more of the legs. I did crop out the ends of the outermost legs, though, to keep the body from looking too small.



© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I was going over my images from the last few weeks, I came across this image of a daddy longlegs (also known as a harvestman) that I really like, in part because of the way that the photo shows its eyes.

Previously I posted  what I had characterized as an artistic shot of this arachnid that showed mostly its bottom side. In this shot, the harvestman had turned toward the camera and the eyes, which grow on a stalk in the middle of its back are visible.

They are a huge contrast with the eyes of a jumping spider that I featured recently in a posting, which had multiple sets of large eyes.  


Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Can a photo of a daddy longlegs (also known as a harvestman) be artistic?

Ordinarily, I would emphatically respond in the negative, but somehow this macro shot that I took of a daddy longlegs, suspended upside down from a branch, came out with a cool, creative vibe to it. I like the way the legs are placed, the way the light is hitting its body, and the way the branch is in focus only in the center area.

I ran across this daddy longlegs as I was walking through the woods and I took the time to set up my tripod and use my 100mm macro lens to get this shot. The daddy longlegs was amazingly tolerant of my efforts and remained in place the whole time, even when I experimented with the use of my pop-up flash.


Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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It was raining a little yesterday when I encountered my first harvestman (order Opiliones) of the spring, which explains the drops of water that you may notice on some on its legs.

Growing up, I was accustomed to calling them daddy longlegs and thought they were a kind of spider. Last year, I learned that harvestman in fact are not spiders, even though they do belong to the class of arachnids—harvestmen are in the order Opiliones and spiders are in the order Araneae.

I shot this image with my 55-250mm telephoto zoom, which meant that I couldn’t get in super close to the harvestman. However, I did manage to get at least part of all of his legs in the shot, which was not the case last year when I photographed one with my macro lens—there is an unavoidable tendency to want to get close whenever I put the macro lens on my camera.


Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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What’s a harvestman?

a. A man who harvests. like a farmer or a migrant worker;

b. A pocket electronic device made by International Harvester (like a Walkman or Discman);

c. An insect related to a spider; or

d. Spiderman’s adversary in the new Spiderman movie

Until earlier this week I might have responded with selection  “a” if  I had been posed this question—it is the most obvious answer. I would have been wrong. The correct answer is “c.”

As I was finishing up a photo shoot in a local garden one of my friends excitedly pointed to a bush and exclaimed, “There’s your first harvestman.” I did not have a clue what she was talking about. All I could really see in the bush was a bunch of long legs connected to a body. (My friend Cindy D. has some photos of the entire body of a harvestman in one of her blog postings in case you are not familiar with this insect.)

I shot some photos anyways and when I looked at them on my computer I was shocked. There appeared to be two eyes on a stalk in the middle of the insect’s back, with the eyes looking sidewards in completely opposite directions. Could they really be eyes?

Here is one of my photos of the harvestman. It is not a technically perfect photo but it gives you a pretty clear view of the unusual eyes of this strange insect.  If you want to learn more, check out this page, which is full of fascination factoids and photos.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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