So, you have a daddy long leg problem in your home.
In this comprehensive tutorial, you’ll learn:
- Why daddy long leggers (harvestmen) are in your home
- How to get rid of harvestmen naturally
- Ways to keep them away and not come back
Feel free to bookmark this page if you need to refer back to it in the future.
Sound good? Let’s get your home spider-free!
Last updated: 1/23/21.
What’s a daddy long leg spider?
One thing to note is that daddy long legs are considered arachnids, but not technically spiders. There have also been rumors that they possess no venom.
There’s an urban myth that they have enough venom that’s powerful to take down an elephant.
But they don’t have the fangs they need to inject this venom into animals. Is it true? Do some research.
It’s also important to note that the name “daddy long legs” can also refer to a flying spider-like crane. In this article, we’ll be focusing on the “spider” version of the name.
Note that they ARE considered to be beneficial insects because they help catch annoying pests in your home.
For that reason, you may want to consider just leaving them be. They’re not dangerous like recluse spiders or black widows.
Even though they’re not technically spiders, we can still refer to them as one just to keep things simple.
These spiders are often the source of confusion. Because of horror movies, a lot of homeowners have the wrong thoughts about these bugs. They’re actually very beneficial spiders!
These spiders have a ton of different nicknames- everything from fairytales to folklore.
Daddy long legs may also be called:
- Cellar spiders
- Carpenter spider
- Daddy long legger
- Skull spider
- Vibrating spider
What do they look like?
Daddy long legs look like a regular spider- except they have extremely “long legs” as their nickname states. They have two main body parts that make up their torso- abdomen, and cephalothorax.
They have eight eyes that are clustered on their torso in the front. Some species only have six, depending on where they live.
They’re about 2-10mm in length and the legs may be up to 50mm. The color ranges from gray to brown. There are also clear ones. Some of them have chevron markings on the body.
The torso connects to their eight legs, which extend many times beyond their “long legs” out into the distance. This allows them to cover ground very quickly and also provides them “height” to inject their prey with venom.
Most types of daddy long legs in the united states are completely gray with a black abdomen. You may also see orange, tan, or black varieties.
Do they spin webs?
Yes. Daddy long legs spin webs like most other spiders. They catch prey using their webs. They also will dangle and drop down from the ceiling, which may startle you.
Where do they live?
These spiders are found on every continent except Antarctica. They can live in both damp and desert environments. Even though they prefer to stay in humid areas with plenty of water, they’ve been found in dry and hot climates. Thus, these spiders are extremely adaptable.
In the United States, they’ve found all over in every state. Daddy long legs mainly live in northern and southeastern areas of the United States. In South Carolina and other southern states where the temperatures are cold, they can overwinter as an adult spider.
Where are they found?
These spiders usually hang out near sources of water. This means you may find them outdoors in the garden near ponds, water fountains, puddles, or other water features. If you have pooling water from backed-up drainage, they may appear near those areas.
You’ll often see daddy long legs in basements, crawl spaces, bathrooms, kitchens, and other humid environments.
Are they good to have around?
Yes, they’re actually a very nice spider to have around your home and garden. Most people are mistaken and automatically label them as a pest, but keep reading to see what they can do for you.
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What are they good for?
They’re good for pest control. Instead of doing all the dirty work and killing other pests, these spiders can help you maintain a tidy home. They eat other bugs that would normally infest your home and yard.
They can help eat up dead bugs, insect eggs, and even prey on many common annoyances like aphids and ants. Daddy long legs are often misunderstood as they’re very beneficial spiders to have.
Think of them as a pest control spider that’s working for you- for free. 24/7. Can you really ask for something more?
Can you kill a daddy long leg?
There’s nothing stopping you from killing one, is there? Sure, you can kill one just like any other spider. But the real question is: Should you kill one? They offer many benefits to having them around your home and yard. But the problem is that most people don’t know about the good things they do and just equate “spider = bad.”
But, maybe you shouldn’t
You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t kill daddy long legs. Maybe you’re wondering about the benefits of keeping them. Or maybe what they’re good for. These spiders will help you keep your pest problem down because they eat other bugs.
Some of their favorite meals are earthworms, bug eggs, and even other spiders. They’re also known to eat garden aphids, ants, and bugs that would normally tear up your garden vegetables.
You should keep them in your yard if possible, as they’re extremely helpful in keeping other bug populations in check.
What are they attracted to?
Daddy long legs are mainly attracted to light sources. These spiders are drawn to the bright lights from both fluorescence and LED lighting. You can only use yellow lighting to help repel them from your home, as they tend to steer away from these “warmer” light colors.
They’re also often found near water sources, as they prefer humid and wet areas around your home.
You can also find these spiders near stone piles, rocks, compost heaps, debris, trash cans, logs, woodpiles, and abandoned or unkempt yards. You may also find them in your cellar or basement, as they’re also known to be cellar spiders.
Why are there daddy long legs in my house?
They’re probably seeking out two things:
The common household provides both of these, so it’s not a surprise that you’ll have daddy long legs in your home. Most homes provide a plentiful source of food for them (other bugs, spiders, etc.) so they have a lot to eat. Homes also shield them from the harsh environment outdoors, especially during the winter or summer time.
These spiders like dark and humid environments, which is why you’ll find them in specific areas of your house:
- Laundry room
- Crawl spaces
All of these places have plenty of other bugs for them to catch and eat. And they’re dark and have a source of water. Both of these attract daddy long legs into your home.
Why are there so many daddy long legs in my room?
The most common reason is that your room may have a lot of bugs. They eat other smaller pests that they caught in their webs.
You’ll often find daddy long legs in the dark areas of your room, such as closets, dressers, and under the bend. They may also tuck themselves into the corners of your ceiling and behind your furniture.
When the weather drops to colder temperatures outdoors, they may have entered your home to escape the weather.
This is especially true if your home is unkempt and in poor condition, which may allow them plenty of areas to enter. If your house has damaged foundations, cracks, broken caulking or seals- this allows spiders and other pests to enter. If they come in, other pests probably did also.
This means that your home could be full of pests that got in through the many cracks in your home. And the spiders are just another invader. Because you have so many pests, the spiders have plenty of food to eat.
These spiders eat other bugs to survive. If you don’t have other bugs, they don’t have a food source. So chances are, if you have other bugs in your home, you’ll also have daddy long legs.
You’ll want to seal up your home to prevent these spiders (and other pests) from coming in. we’ll cover his later.
What do daddy long legs spiders eat?
Daddy long legs eat other spiders, bugs, and inverts. They have a varied diet and are carnivorous spiders. They’ll typically inject their prey with venom which will paralyze it.
Then they’ll start to consume the prey. This is why many people keep daddy long legs in the home. They help deal with other pests and eat them up on behalf of the homeowners
Some of their favorite prey items are:
Do they eat Redbacks?
Daddy long legs have been shown to prey and eat redback spiders.
Even the redbacks look a lot more dangerous, the daddy long leg isn’t afraid. The venom from the long leg proves to be much more powerful and can easily paralyze a redback spider.
Do they eat house spiders?
Yes. Daddy long legs will eat house spiders. The majority of spiders such as black widows, recluse spiders, wolf spiders, jumping spiders, and the common house spider are all prey.
They don’t particularly care about eating other spider species, as they possess powerful venom to paralyze their prey.
Do they eat cockroaches?
Daddy long legs have been shown to eat cockroaches. They can catch smaller baby cockroaches in their web and then inject venom into the roach. This will let them paralyze the cockroach and make a meal out of it.
However, larger roaches may be able to escape quite easily because of their sheer speed and exoskeleton. The urban legend is that daddy long legs can take down an elephant with their venom.
Whether or not this is true, they’ve been seen to take down cockroaches. So if you hate roaches, you may want to keep these spiders around to help you out.
Are they venomous spiders?
Yes. They’re often known as the spider with the most dangerous venom on the planet.
Whether this is true or not, it’s a good thing that there hasn’t been any record of them biting humans to date. Powerful venom for killing other pests, but harmless towards humans.
Are they dangerous?
Daddy long legs aren’t dangerous and a harmless towards humans. They don’t bite, sting, or transmit diseases.
Although they may be scary-looking because of their sheer size and lengthy limbs, these spiders are gentle giants. Most people see them as dangerous because they’re unfamiliar with spiders and pests in the first place.
Rick Vetter from the University of California, Riverside, states that there are no records of daddy long legs harming humans.
Can daddy long legs harm you?
Even though these spiders are venomous and can inject some dangerous toxins into their prey, they don’t bite humans.
They have the ability to pierce the skin, but their natural disposition is to avoid biting humans for some reason.
So in essence, daddy long legs are the “good guys” because they’re harmless to humans and will only eat other bugs. You can’t really ask for anything else from a spider!
How to get rid of cellar spiders naturally
Here we’ll cover some natural ways you can get rid of daddy long legs at home.
These DIY remedies should work for the majority of spider problems, but no solution is proven to work for every situation. Try a few of them out and see what works best for you.
1. Vacuum them up
This is the easiest method. Just take a regular vacuum with a hose attachment and suck them up. Harvestmen aren’t that fast and you can easily suck them up because they’re light as air.
You can also use a shop vac if you need to reach them in a hard-to-reach area. Whenever you come across one, just pull up the vacuum and do the job. Beats trying to crunch them with a paper towel and having all the legs fall off.
2. Use sticky traps
You can buy sticky traps for spiders at most hardware stores. And you can also make your own at home. Either way, these traps work well against daddy long legs because their legs offer plenty of surface area for the traps to stick.
Place them in strategic areas where you think they’ll walk over. A nice trick is to place them under your doorframe to keep them out of your room because there’s no other way than to walk under the door. This way, you can easily stop them in their tracks before they even enter your room.
Some spiders will escape and you’ll see a leg or two stuck on the trap. If you see this, you may have a harvestmen in your room.
3. Use boric acid
This stuff has been reported to work for harvestmen. It’s a powder that you can buy at most department stores.
You’ll need to sprinkle it around your voids, crawl spaces, around edges, and under door frames. When the spider walks over it, it damages the abdomen and then later ingested by it.
This will then kill the spider. It doesn’t work right away, but takes a few days to fully kick in. Although boric acid isn’t harmful, you should still be careful and use gloves and a mask when you apply it.
Also, keep kids and pets away from it all times. When the spider problem is taken care of, use a vacuum to clean up the boric acid.
And don’t apply near food-prep areas. This will help get rid of these spiders inside your home.
4. Broom the webs
Don’t let them leave their webs behind. Use a broom or vacuum to clean them up. They may establish another web if you don’t clean up the previous one. This is just a handy tip.
5. DIY harvestmen repellent
You can make your spider repellent at home by adding 1 cup of white vinegar and ½ cup of vanilla extra into a small spray bottle.
Gently swirl the mixture. Spray it directly where you notice the daddy long legs have been hanging out. The scent has been reported to deter and repel them. You can spray it in cracks and edges around your home to help keep them away.
6. Use natural sprays or pesticides
If none of the DIY remedies work, you can resort to using commercial approaches last.
You should avoid this when possible because a lot of spider sprays and killers have toxic chemicals. Yes. There are 100% natural spider killers you can buy. You should seek them out if you resort to using a pesticide.
Always get organic or natural repellents/sprays when possible. And if you really don’t know what you’re doing, hire a professional exterminator.
Use the pesticide as directed. Read the label. Since these are professionally made, you may have a better chance of killing the harvestmen.
What can I spray to get rid of them?
There are dozens of spider sprays out there that you can buy. Do your research and choose the one that’s highly rated.
Get an organic or natural one and avoid any dangerous chemicals. Use as directed. Be careful when using sprays and repellents inside your home. Only use chemicals approved for indoor use if you do so.
Or just make your own DIY vanilla and vinegar mixture from above.
Daddy long legs in the garden
Keeping harvestmen out of your garden requires a lot of cleanup. The key is to tidy up and remove as much clutter and plant debris as possible.
This is because the more areas there are to hide, the more bugs will hide in your yard. This means more meals for harvestmen. So you should clean up your garden as much as you can. We’ll cover this later.
Harvestmen on the porch
Harvestmen tend to hang out on the porch because it offers a source of bright light (porch light), food, and plenty of hiding places.
Porches and decks typically have plenty of cracks and crawl spaces that are packed with debris. All this garbage provides them with virtually unlimited food, so they’ll likely take shelter and set up a web.
Clean up your porch by removing all the leaf litter, especially if you have an empty void under your porch deck. Add sticky traps.
Make some spiders repellent and spray it. Also, consider changing your porch light or turning it off. You can use yellow light to help keep the spiders away.
How do you keep them away?
To keep these spiders away, there are a few things you can do at home. The best thing would be to clean up your outdoor areas from any debris.
Pests seek out cluttered areas because there are plenty of hiding places for them. If you clean this up, then it minimizes the number of areas where they can hide.
Clean your garden
Cleaning up your garden is the best way to repel these spiders. Tidying up any clutter and unnecessary debris from your yard will help deter harvestmen from coming. There’s less food available and fewer places to hide.
This means doing things like:
- Cleaning up any woodpiles
- Securing compost and trash
- Removing leaf litter
- Disposing debris
- Cleaning up gutters and drains
- Trimming grass and picking up the clippings
- Keeping bushes and trees pruned
- Covering lawn furniture
- Securing or placing pest traps in crawl spaces
These should get you a head start on preventing spiders and other pests from hanging out in your garden.
Fix up and repair your home
This is the next best thing you can do. You’ll want to make your home impregnable to bugs so that you don’t have to deal with them sneaking in.
If you’re not handy, consider hiring a home repair specialist to do the following:
- Seal up any cracks in your home’s foundation
- Repair damaged window or door screening
- Caulk up any crevices around doors, windows, or vents
- Seal up gaps around doors
- Block up entryways in crawl spaces or voids
- Fix damaged weatherstripping
This should make it a lot harder for bugs to get inside your home.
Tidy up your home
The same goes for inside your house.
You’ll want to remove clutter, store unused materials, vacuum often, put pest traps, and generally keep your home clean. Get rid of anything you don’t need and keep your storage areas clean. This will help eliminate harvestmen and many other pests since they’ll have nowhere to hide.
Spiders seek cluttered, dark areas like your basement or garage. This is why you’ll often find harvestmen or recluse spiders in those areas. Keeping it clean is important to minimize the chances of them setting up shop!
Like many bugs, harvestmen are attracted to bright lights. Consider reducing your outdoor lighting to a minimal amount or removing them entirely. Or switch to yellow lighting, as this seems to repel them rather than attract.
- Remove pathway markers
- Turn off your porch or garden lights
- Use curtains or blinds to minimize indoors lighting
- Use motion lights instead of traditional lighting
- Clean up your water features
If you have a source of water outdoors, this may be attracting spiders to your home.
Either remove or secure your water sources to prevent bugs from taking a big gulp:
- Water fountains
- Backed up water in your drains
- Pet water bowls
- Kiddie pools
- Leaky faucets
- Garden hoses
- Pholcidae – Wikipedia
- Daddy Longlegs Won’t Kill You – Nature.org
- Daddy Long Legs – University of California, Riverside
Did you get rid of the cellar spiders?
By now, you should have everything you need to know to get started on driving the daddy spiders out.
You have a solid foundation and you should be able to manage your pest situation. If not, hire a professional to help you out.
Any questions? Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
Did you find this tutorial helpful? Leave a comment and let me know!
Consider telling a friend. Chances are if you live in the same area, you both may be dealing with the same spider!
Thanks for reading.
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.