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harvestmen

Opiliones

What do they look like?

Harvestmen have small round bodies with eight very long, very thin legs. Like ticks and mites, harvestmen have evolved a tight connection between the two body sections that other Arachnids have. Their whole body is one round unit. On either side of their mouth they have short appendages called pedipalps that they use to hold food while they chew it.

Where do they live?

These long-legged arachnids are found all around the world. They are most diverse in tropical Southeast Asia and South America, but there are harvestman species everywhere, even in much colder regions.

What kind of habitat do they need?

Harvestmen need humid places to live. They are most often found in forests and caves, climbing on rocks and vegetation.

How do they grow?

These animals have to shed their exoskeleton in order to grow. They don't change their shape much as they grow, just get bigger and grow longer legs. Often they hang upside down while shedding.

How long do they live?

Usually only one year.

How do they behave?

Not much is known about the behavior of this group. Some are active at night, some in daylight.

How do they communicate with each other?

Harvestmen have eyes, but don't see very well. They probably rely on touch and smell

What do they eat?

Harvestmen eat very small invertebrates, and scavenge on larger dead ones and dead plant material.

  • Primary Diet
  • carnivore
    • eats non-insect arthropods

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

These animals have large glands that produce toxic chemicals to keep predators away. They also can shed their legs, and move fast even if they loose a couple. If a predator grabs a leg, the harvestman will just leave it behind, still twitching and distracting the predator, while the rest of the animal gets away.

 
University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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. "Opiliones" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed July 31, 2014 at http://www.biokids.umich.edu/accounts/Opiliones/

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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