What has eight legs?

When you say ‘it had eight legs’ most people think of spiders. But there is more to the class Arachnida than spiders. It also includes scorpions, ticks and a host of other less familiar animals.

One of those less familiar animals is harvestmen.

We spotted a harvestman walking across a path early one morning. We didn’t know what it was at the time, other than ‘an arachnid’. We knew that because it had eight legs (almost all arachnids have eight legs). But we could see that it wasn’t a spider.

Spiders have a cephalothorax and an abdomen with a ‘waist’ between them. The harvestman has a single body segment. Spiders usually have eight eyes. The harvestman has only two.

Harvestmen don’t produce silk and so don’t make webs. Nor do they have venom and so are harmless to people.

Next time you see lots of legs scuttling across the path in front of you take a closer look. It may not be a spider.