Saturday, August 4, 2012

Daddies Freakin' Out!

......a smattering of our deck squatters!
For many months now we've had squatters - hundreds of them - sleeping outside up in rafters of the deck. Despite my aversion to creepy-crawlies - especially ones found in Texas - these long limbed spider-like daddies I kind of dig!

I first saw a bunch of them clustered on the back of our extension door over two years ago and immediately recoiled in horror. Luckily I was with an old seasoned Texas lady at the time, who convinced me straight away that they were 'friends' and that they would take care of the other nasties for me.

My imagination had me dreaming up scenarios where thousands of these daddy long-legs would pack hunt the poisonous pests and gobble them up leaving no trace.

Yes - these protectors are definitely welcome to hang out at our house.

The fantasy seemed to support what is apparently the biggest spider-myth out there:

"daddy long-legs are one of the most poisonous spiders, but their fangs are too short to bite humans."

I'd heard this myth years ago - applied to the British daddy long-legs variety - and after what my old Texan gal pal had told me about my new friendly squatters, it all seemed to add up.

I've never attempted to get rid of the Texan gangly critters since I realized their super powers. But until this year I never had to house-share with them.

This year they're everywhere!

Our deck was completed at the back end of last fall, and like most creepers, we didn't see hide nor hair of the (not-really-a-spider) spiders until it started warming up again this spring.

Then all of a sudden our squatters were back- and they'd brought all their friends with them....

The first time I saw them huddled on our front porch, high up in the rafters and on the cabin siding I was gobsmacked at how many there were. I was even more stunned when they all started 'freakin out' together as our Daddy (short-legs) likes to put it!

It only seems to take one daddy freakin' out - say, if a kid gets too close to the cluster - to set the rest of them off, then they all start bouncing in sync - it's the weirdest phenomenon.    

Before long I started to spot tall eerie shadows scurrying across our indoor carpets, and on the cabin wood floor. But even having encroached on the inside of our home I'm still not phased by them - I'm not so keen on having to sweep up their dead daily (I seem to find dead daddies all over the house - especially the screened in porch).

This year our ecosystem - inside the house - has had a bit of a shake up.

There have been more scorpions - which sadly scuppers my 'pack hunt' theory - but we've seen NO ants inside. None whatsoever.

The difference is remarkable - considering that this time last year we were fire-fighting ant infestations with fresh poison stations weekly. And this summer - with two snacking toddlers - we've got double the crumbs, and ice cream and sticky melon drops all over the shop!

It can only be the daddies doing their very best to earn bed and board.

So far they seem happy to sleep in their humongous cluster outside - only scattering their troops out to forage and scavenge inside the house when they need food. I think my affection for them would quickly evaporate if they attempted to relocate their hoards inside.

But wait, there's more.....

Daddy short-legs (a.k.a the hubs) has been working diligently this last week to set up a mini pump and pool outside for the kids. A few days ago, while all but Daddy were happy napping, he wriggled under the crawl space of the house extension to hook up the pump electrics.

The idea of crawling under the house freaks Momma out - critters or no critters. Ever since watching The Children of The Corn lower that house down onto that poor little old lady, I swore I'd never live in a house on stilts...      

So there our Daddy was - having crawled a good 6 feet or so (his height and then some) underneath the house - before he spotted one or two eerie shadowy movements on the floor in front of him. Then something made him raise his eyes to the underside of the floor just above him, and finally - with horror movie trepidation - he craned his neck around to look straight up.

And what do you think he saw.......?

Right above him, almost completely covering the floor insulation, were millions of our amiable ant hunters. The only thing standing between Daddy and 'The Daddies' was the chicken wire that holds the insulation in place. The same chicken wire brushing the top of Daddy's head - with holes large enough for tarantulas to crawl through, never mind a wiry limbed daddy-long-leg!

Daddy says:
"Multiply this by a thousand and you're still not even close!"
I would have screamed. Daddy - to his credit - did not (he didn't want to wake the babies - aww).

What a Daddy!

When they felt the presence of GIANT Daddy short-legs they all started freaking out together. Hoards and hoards of agitated arachnids bouncing furiously at Daddy's intrusion.

He finished the job - in spite of the 'freak out' going inside his head - and his heart beating ten to the dozen. The 'job' involved crawling a further 4 feet under the pulsing mother hub of what I now know (after my trusty Google research) to be Harvestmen.

In spite of maintaining an outward calm, Daddy fought for every ragged breath - coming close to hyperventilating each time his focus wandered from the task at hand to the cluster of creepy-crawlies over head and harrowingly out of sight.

He later admitted that if they'd have dropped and scurried over him he would have screamed like a little girl - even though he knew they were harmless enough.

Little did we realize that our hundreds of squatters on the deck are just the 'sentinel' harvestmen. Watchmen for the millions of harvestmen living underneath the house. No wonder they're taking care of the ants!

I wonder if they'll eat dog fleas too?

The dogs' usual flea meds suddenly don't seem to be holding up against the summer flea infestations outdoors  - and for the last couple of nights we've noticed the mutts scratching like crazy.

I'm sure I saw something jumping on the couch yesterday...

Hopefully the harvestmen will feast on the fleas (as well as the ants and the crumbs dropped by the boys) - and the new kitten will subsequently hunt the harvestmen, hopefully keeping their freaky-deaky population in check!

And if we're lucky the dogs won't devour the kitten..... but that's a whole other blog!

Of all the fascinating facts regarding our summer squatters that my Googling has come up with - the one that trips me out the most is that these prevalent harvestmen are apparently an endangered species here in Texas....

No freakin' way!

Whichever Texan determined harvestmen to be 'endangered' in this state must have been looking under the wrong house.

Just ask our Daddy short-legs...!

*A few home 'truths' about harvestmen - at least according to Google:

1. Harvestmen are not spiders (they are arachnids - like spiders and scorpions).

2. They are not poisonous.

3. They don't have any fangs - but can pinch you with their claws (agghhh).

4. Harvestmen are the Grandaddies of daddy long-legs (six-legged crane-flys and cellar spiders are also called daddy long-legs).  

5. They can emit a foul smell to ward off predators (much like another Daddy I know....).

6. If our Daddy short-legs was actually a daddy long-legs his legs would be 42 feet long!

Pretty cool, huh?


  1. "gobsmacked" love it!!! love your story... really enjoyed it. i'm dealing with wasp's on the front porch on a nightly basis. ha!!! take care, slu

  2. Oh. My. Goodness. I would be freaking out as well! Those just look creepy. Hahaha loved your post!

  3. You must be joking. With all those creepy crawlies around I would have packed my bags, family and contents in tow, and left the crawlies to it. I'm still itching from reading your post.
    You just might wake up one morning and find that you can't move, why? because all those spiders have trapped you in their webs. Yuk. Must dash my skin is crawling now. Ha ha ha.

  4. oh I had the heebie-jeebies reading this!
    I want to pass on a blog award to you, pop over to my blog to pick it up :o)

    Kerri x

    1. Thank you Kerri - I'll be over pronto!:D

  5. Spiders freak freak freak me out.You are picking up the awards, Josie. I have one for you too. It's called the Laine Award..Kind of a beauty blog award. I know these are a lot of work. So accept it whenever you want. It's over there for the taking :)

  6. just enjoyed reading it...nice...GOD<3U