We had this daddy longlegs make his web** right on the outside of our window glass. We decided this was the perfect way to observe him as he moved around his web. We could get right up underneath him and look at his body parts. We had already learned that he is not an insect but we still thought he was an interesting subject for our nature study.
From page 434 of the Handbook of Nature Study:
"In the North, all except one species die at the approach of winter; but not until after the female, which, by the way, ought to be called "granny longlegs." has laid her eggs in the ground, or under some protecting stone, or in some safe crevice of wood or bark."
"They get their growth like insects, by shedding their skins as fast as they outgrow them. It is interesting to study one of these cast skins with a lens. There it stands with a slit down its back, and with the skin of each leg absolutely perfect to the tiny claw! Again we marvel at these legs that seem so threadlike, and which have an outer covering that can be shed. "
I found one of these exoskeletons in the web of this daddy longlegs. It looked just like the daddy longlegs and I wondered how it slipped its slender legs out of that skin. I read on another website that the daddy longlegs will shed its skin every ten days. I also read that they can grow a new leg if one gets broken....amazing and fascinating.
"Put a grandfather greybeard (daddy longlegs) in a breeding cage or under a large tumbler, and let the pupils observe him at leisure. If you place a few drops of sweetened water at one side of the cage, the children will surely have an opportunity to see this amusing creature clean his legs."
The Handbook of Nature Study on page 434 also lists out eight activities you can do to observe the daddy longlegs. We are going to give a few of them a try the next time we have a daddy longlegs come to visit.
Here's my original post on daddy longlegs:
Daddy Longlegs: Not an Insect
**I have since been told that daddy longlegs don't construct webs. I did some additional research online to find the answer.
Here's another source that may clear up the mystery and I will just cut and paste from Wikipedia:
Some species, especially Pholcus phalangioides, are commonly called daddy long-legs spider, daddy long-legger, granddaddy long-legs spider, cellar spider, vibrating spider, or house spider. Confusion often arises because the name "daddy longlegs" is also applied to two distantly related arthropod groups: the harvestmen (which are arachnids but not spiders), and crane flies (which are insects)."Barb-Harmony Art Mom