Pholcidae – Daddy Long-Legs or Cellar Spider

As strange as it sounds, the Pholcidae, or Cellar Spider is one of the most misunderstood spiders in the world. There are three different critters commonly referred to as the Cellar Spider:

Pholcidae or Cellar Spider
The beautiful cellar spider. Photography by: Kimberly Moss – Kalamazoo, Michigan

The Crane Fly (which looks like a giant mosquito), the Harvestman (which is commonly mistaken for a spider but has only one body part and no fangs), and then there is the actual Cellar Spider.  However, it has become so common for each of these to be called Cellar Spiders, or Daddy Long-Legs, that it is now considered correct for all three.

Pholcidae is actually not a species but a family of spiders. There are nearly 2,000 species of Pholcidae distributed in the entire USA and also worldwide.

There is a common myth about Pholcidae. It says that it is the most venomous spider in the world, but its fangs cannot penetrate human skin. This is far from true. In fact, they can bite, but they are completely harmless.

Pholcidae Description

The Cellar Spider has a small thin body with very long thin legs. It is usually a tan or gray shade of color.

Pholcidae Daddy Long-Legs Spider

Size

The body will reach a maximum length of up to 10 mm (less than half an inch) and its legs may grow to around two inches long (51 mm).

Web

Fitting to this spider, their webbing is made of very thin strands and strung about haphazardly giving it the look of a light cobweb. The Daddy Long-Leg Spider often builds its web in the corners of the ceiling, behind bookshelves, under and behind couches, between joists in the basement, etc…

Bites

It is difficult to get bitten by a Cellar Spider, and on the very rare occasion one does bite, it is completely harmless to humans. At the worst, it may leave a small red blemish that will fade fairly quickly.

Side Fact

Pholcidae is one of the best spiders to have around, especially, if you live in a state, with more poisonous spiders. They are known to actually hunt down and kill the more dangerous spiders to humans. When the Cellar Spider is in its web and feels threatened, it has the ability to vibrate itself within the web to make it less visible.

Pholcidae Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Arachnida
  • Order: Araneae
  • Infraorder: Araneomorphae
  • Family: Pholcidae

Common Names

Cellar spider, daddy long-legs spider, granddaddy long-legs, carpenter spider, house spider, daddy long-legger, skull spider, vibrating spider

US states where the cellar spider is found

Pholcidae – Daddy Long-Legs or Cellar Spider range map

Every US state – Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Pholcidae – Daddy Long-Legs or Cellar Spider

41 thoughts on “Pholcidae – Daddy Long-Legs or Cellar Spider

  1. SORRY. I live in Northern Virginia and saw this guy, we have a bunch of similar spiders in my classroom, mostly they hide behind the felt board or under the chalkboard. They’re about the size of the head of a regular sharpie marker.

  2. Can anyone tell me what kind of spider this is? Located in West-Central Ohio. Each one was in same area but two different locations. Thanks for any help someone may be able to provide!
    Linda

  3. Hi there. I found this spider in the corner of our covered front porch. We’re in Northern New Jersey. It has very long front legs, a dark abdomen with a darker geometric pattern and a light brown to gold thorax with a dark brown shape in the middle. It’s body is about 1/4″ in length without the legs. It doesn’t appear aggressive…just chillin’. Any idea?
    Thanks!

  4. Hi, I found this Spider in Nothern Illinois. I think it’s a daddy long legs but I’m not sure. Any info would be great!

  5. My father found this in his crawlspace in New Jersey. Looks like an orb weaver of some sort? It actually came over to check him out then walked away. Don’t know if behavior helps.

    1. Hello Jim, thanks for getting in touch! This is an unfortunate cellar spider (Pholcus sp.) infected with a fungus (Engyodontium aranearum). The fungus has taken over the spider, influences its behavior and will eventually kill the spider. It would be best to kill the spider to protect the fungus from spreading to other spiders. The fungus is not dangerous for humans or pets.

  6. Found this daddy long legs in my house. Fairly huge though, given it’s legs spanned a bit wider than my hand. Let it out in the back yard. Curious if it’s just a common though, due to the tree like markings on its back.

  7. Hey there! I am Tommy Phan. I am from Phoenix, Arizona. I found this spider in my bathroom and was wondering what kind of spider this is? Hopefully this picture is good enough! I released it back outside using the fly swatter. Thank you!

  8. Daddy long leg-esque body shape, but the butt is tear drop shaped or oval with a tip. The legs are clear/translucent. The body is black with very little orange/red coloration. Each leg has 2-3 “joints” and there are no hairs on the body. The web it spun is not normal shaped. It is frantic and chaotically crowded bubble looking. Found in Gramercy, LA and late December/ early January.

  9. I live in Arizona and I found this in my kitchen sink. When I attempted to move the sink mat it recoiled. Almost in a defense mode. Once I was able to move the mat, the attempted to escape and saw what looked like a brown sack (???) and several small ones……

    Thank you in advance for your assistance.

  10. Spider was found inside a bag in the garage. The legs are really thin like a daddy long leg but not as long. The abdomen/back half area is really large, like swollen with a point on the bottom side of it. Maybe pregnant? It is like a dark gray color.

    Found in southwest Arizona.

  11. Hey! Found this cutie indoors, I live in Utah, and its body’s small, and mostly brown, with the main body light tan (with a brief stripe).
    Its legs are SUPER long (about 4-5 cm), compared to his main body (about 0.8 cm).
    Its body is very stick shaped, and it has web-spinners on the abdomen.
    Mostly slow-moving, but very fast if startled.
    Thanks!

  12. Found in New Mexico, indoors. Unable to identify.
    Legs are about 1 inch long. Abdomen about half the size of a pea.
    Skinny brown legs with black spots at the joints. Light colored small head with a dark center. Grey plump abdomen with black markings.
    It looks like a widow body type and behavior. But not any widow I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t really make a “web”, just kinda “widow webs” in the corner so not an orb weaver, but I don’t know any other spiders around here that have that kind of plump abdomen with that small of a head. Anyone know?

  13. Hello, I’m wondering what you can tell me about this one? My co-worker is scared of spiders and it got away. We are in Lake Havasu City, AZ. Thanks!

  14. There is a spider that is surrounded with her babies, about 30-40 of them, and I just want to make sure this kind of spider is not poisonous. I have a curious dog who loves to sniff everything. That way I know if I should be worried for his safety.

  15. the daddy long legs here. In the seattle area are usually round in body shape with really long legs. I have cellar spiders. I brought them with me from my old home. They are a gentle sort. Do they bother cats or kittens? Are there any type of spider that can be harmful to cats or kittens? I foster.

  16. 1) Visually white bodied spider (~1/4 inch) with possible greenish cast. Uniform translucent leg color. Front leg pair > 1 inch, 2nd pair somewhat less long, 3rd pair shortest and held vertically under body, back pair longer than 3rd pair but shorter than 2nd pair. No obvious body or leg hairs. Possibly Enoplognatha ovata (Candy-striped Spider) lineata morph? Visually similar in shape/size to black widow type.

    2)Found indoors, Corpus Christi, Texas Sept. 14 dancing on computer screen.

    3) attribution to Chris Couteau

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