Let’s get back on the harmless friend train with our buddy, the cellar spider! They are great and I love them and used to collect them on my bedroom ceiling as a child, which everyone always thinks is very strange but really it’s not because look at this:
It’s so delicate!
Quick Spider Facts
Cellar spiders make up the Pholcidae family, which contains 90 genera and several hundred species, all of which have the classic build seen in these photographs; the tiny body and very long, spindly legs are characteristic of this family. P. phalangioides is also by far the most common species encountered in homes.
Their size varies widely, with a body size up to 10 mm and legspan up to 10 cm.
All cellar spiders are completely harmless to humans.
They have a worldwide distribution, living anywhere outside the Arctic and Antarctic.
Cellar spiders are also known as daddy-long-legs in several areas of the world, and this leads to them commonly being confused with harvestmen (which are not spiders) and craneflies (which are not even arachnids). All share a similar body shape but are otherwise nothing alike!
Another common misconception you may have heard is that they are extremely venomous but their weak fangs do not allow them to penetrate human skin. Both of these assertions are incorrect. Cellar spiders are more than capable of delivering a bite, although their calm disposition means they are highly unlikely to do so. Their venom is actually very weak, even in their prey, and in humans produces nothing more than a slight tingling sensation in the affected area. This spider’s main weapon is its web.
It does not spin sticky silk, but its web is constructed of closely-woven irregular strands which make it very difficult for a creature to escape once ensnared. You might have noticed this while cleaning your walls and ceilings! This web is highly effective and is capable of capturing prey several times the cellar spider’s size. Pholcidae are notable predators of Tegenaria spiders (which include house and hobo spiders), huntsmen, as well as redbacks and black widows, making them fantastic house guests in areas with dangerous spider species.
The web also features heavily in the cellar spider’s threat display; if threatened, the spider will violently shake its web, making itself appear much larger and more dangerous than it really is. It also has the effect of potentially catching the source of the threat within the web, protecting the spider and maybe even turning the tables and providing it a meal!
They’re calm and slow and, if you’re gentle enough not to hurt them, so easy to handle that a seven-year-old can collect every one in the house for her personal menagerie. Also very good predators! I suggest filling a room in your own home with cellar spiders because really why not
tldr FRIEND 😀