DADDY LONG LEGS
by: Eddie Trapp
Warm days this fall seems to be alive with more than a usual number of spider like arthropods called daddy long legs. Another name, though I haven’t heard anyone around here use it, is harvestmen. Seems like this critter is just trying to cause confusion. Many people think it is a kind of spider. Even the name contributes. For example, should you call the female a mama long legs? Would just one of them be a harvestman instead of a harvestmen? People even complicate the matter by spreading the rumor that they are more poisonous than any spider but just don’t have strong enough jaws to bite anyone.
Like spiders and insects, daddy long legs are arthropods which means joint legged. Arthro is like in arthritis, a joint disease, while pod means leg, like a tripod has three legs. Daddy long legs split away from spiders at the order, or group, called Opiliones of which there are 6500 species worldwide. One difference between them and spiders is the body shape. Spiders have two body parts, the cephalorax where the head and thorax are connected as one unit, while the second is the abdomen. Daddy long legs though, only have one body part in an oval shape.
Unlike spiders, daddy long legs have no silk glands, no venom glands, a defensive scent gland, and can swallow bits of solid food. Spiders can only suck juices from their prey. The largest known daddy long legs species has a body up to .87 inch and a leg span of 6.3 inches. Most live only one year. As mentioned earlier, it is only a rumor that they are poisonous.
Years ago I mentioned daddy long legs in two of these articles. Daddy long legs would gather in large groups of a hundred or more and hang upside down from the ceiling of our porch. I positioned a chair right under one of these clusters and hollered at Jean to come sit down; I needed to talk with her. When she sat down I was behind her and grabbed a broom. Gave those daddy long legs a gentle sweep and they all fell on her head. I had to pay for that though. Another time Jean was sitting against a tree while deer hunting. Things were really dry, as it is now. She heard a tiny noise in the dry leaves and couldn’t figure out what it was. Finally she saw a daddy long legs slowly walking across the leaves, making them rattle. Now you know more than you probably ever wanted to about the mysterious daddy long legs.
Buzz words are words or phrases that surface and become more and more common until they peak, then gradually fade away as they are replaced by more fashionable ones. Years ago I recall our grandkids and cousins telling a story and would occasionally interject, “You know what?” Then there were a few people who regularly added (I think they are called trash words) the phrase, “I tell you what.” If I had a penny for every time Don Gay and Joe Beaver said one of those phrases during the NFR last week I would have more money than a lot of the contestants. Hopefully the peak is almost in sight for these and they will begin the inevitable decline the same way “point in time” and “venue” did.
How many of you are old enough to remember the lay of the land before Cooper Lake was here? Last Friday two Texas Parks and Wildlife employees rode around with me from Horton to Kensing as they were collecting bits of history about the area. One question they asked was if I knew why there were two old cisterns side by side near the swim area in Doctors Creek Park. Normally there was only one cistern per house and houses were several yards from each other. I think this is the same area that was once called Red Bird Hill where a county road turned south. If you have information about the mystery of two cisterns very close together please call me at 903 439 8110.
Many of you will be going to Christmas parties so I will tell you a little trick you can play on some of your relatives and friends. After asking if they have heard of the “Follow The Leader” trick try this on them. Lay a dollar on the table and tell them they can have it if they do exactly like you do. “Set the table” with some items for you and give them an identical set. Things like coins, toothpicks, or anything will work. Each person also gets a glass of water. Move one item about six inches away from you. They will be repeating everything you do. Bring the item back. Move another out. Bring it back. Make several little moves like that and they should be doing the same. After several “moves” take a drink of water but don’t swallow. They will take a drink and probably swallow. You shouldn’t fill your mouth so full your cheeks puff out or they will notice. Make another move or two with the items then calmly let your mouth full of water dribble back down into your glass. They get so mad at themselves as you scoop up the dollar. You can go against several people at once, offering each of them a dollar. More liberal people may try betting the victim a dollar instead of just giving them one.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Jean, Zack, and E T.
It has been years since I used this Christmas story so I guess most of you have forgotten it. A teacher had students draw Nativity scenes. There were three wise men, baby Jesus, donkeys, mangers and the like. The teacher was bragging on the art work. On a little boy’s drawing he had the typical baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph and such. Then the teacher noticed a little fat man over in the corner. She asked who it was and the little boy said, “Oh, that’s Round John Virgin.”
Merry Christmas from