Phalangium opilio

Phalangium opilio female
Phalangium opilio female
Phalangium opilio female
Phalangium opilio female

Class Arachnida (Arachnids)
Order Opiliones (Harvestmen)
Family Phalangiidae
Species Phalangium opilio Linnaeus, 1758

Body length: 3.5-9 mm.

A long-legged harvestman with an indistinct and variable light gray or brown body pattern. The saddle has one or two restrictions along its length giving it a waisted, or double-waisted appearance. Males have a large spur or horn projecting from the anterior surface of the first cheliceral segment. They also tend to have long, thin pedipalps relative to those of other harvestmen and usually are blacker in colouration than the females. Both sexes have small tubercule mounted spikes on the anterior surface of their body, in between the top of their chelicerae and the anterior end of the dorsal surface of the body.

It produces a single generation per year (maybe 2 in the south of England) and overwinters as an egg. Eggs are laid in moist areas under rocks, in cracks in the soil, or in the crowns or recumbent leaves of plants. The eggs hatch in 3 weeks to 5 months or more, depending on temperature, and the immatures undergo several molts and reach maturity in 2 to 3 months.

Feeds on small insects and other invertebrates. It may also feed on dead insects and other decaying material. Seen summer and autumn in well vegetated areas such as gardens, brownfield sites, grassland and open woodland. Seen on walls and vegetation. Common and widespread throughout Britain. A native species.

Female discovered in back garden, South Staffordshire October 2020. © Peter Hillman.

Species recorded and verified via iRecord.