The Harvestman has a tiny oval-shaped body only 1/4 of an inch long surrounded by 8 legs, each between 1 to 2 inches long! Even though it may look like a spider, the harvestman is not exactly the same. Unlike a spider, this arachnid has its head, thorax, and abdomen all fused together. And instead of the spider's 8 eyes, the harvestman has just 2. Did you know that the harvestman also uses its legs as sense organs? The legs have thousands of nerves that let the insect smell, hear, touch, and maybe even see! This way, the arachnid is alert to possible dangers and food sources further away. But the legs of the harvestman are delicate--they can easily snap or break off.

This arachnid is fairly common and can be found in many cool, moist, wooded areas throughout the world. They are often seen near pools of water because they need to drink constantly. Harvestmen are active at night, spending the days alone in damp logs or under leaves. They eat almost anything, including dead caterpillars, beetles, small slugs, snails, earthworms, spiders, and fungi. If attacked the harvestman releases a bad smell from one of its legs that is especially horrible for frogs and toads--its main enemies.

Female harvestmen lay their eggs on the ground or in rotten wood in fall. In the spring, the eggs hatch and tiny white copies of the adults emerge. The young harvestmen soon darken, and as they grow through the summer, molt seven times until they reach full size. The adults then mate and lay eggs for the next year’s generation. Most types of harvestmen live for only one year.

Learn more about other Insects

Return to Animal Exploration's home page