October 23, 2014

I’ve Added a Grand Daddy Long Legs to the Payroll

With the rose bushes doing so well, including the test breeds we are growing in pots, it was only a matter of time before the dreaded aphids found the plants and began to build a home in them, destroying the leaves and feeding off them until they were old enough to leave.  Nope.  Not going to happen.  We noticed that one of the plants was seemingly not affected, with the exception of a few leaves lower down on the stems, so we wondered what was different.  Turns out, it has a resident protector whom has been guarding the roses for us. 

Rose Bush Where Spider Lives

Rose Bush where Grand Daddy Long Legs lives …

Meet Grand Daddy Long Legs.  He hangs out on the top leaf and just watches the plant.  Whenever something gets in it, he eats it.  He works for his food, never complains, and we don’t even have to think about pests destroying the foliage because we know he’s got us covered.  I normally hate spiders but this one and I have come to a mutually beneficial arrangement.  I won’t throw him out or harm him; he keeps protecting my investment.  (Update: Turns out Grand Daddy Long Legs here is probably not, actually, a spider, but an opilione!)

Grand Daddy Long Leg in Rose Bush

Grand Daddy Long Legs on the clock, watching for things to eat.

The coolest thing about this is that some plants, this particular rose bush included, realize when they are being eaten by aphids so they release a chemical to signal the natural predators of aphids to come and save the leaves.  I’m guessing grand daddy heard the cries for help and showed up quickly.  This is awesome because aphids are so horrible, they give birth to new female offspring, which are already pregnant.  That is why they can be so difficult to eradicate.  Not with this guy around to help.

Spider Bro Hanging Out Some More in Rose Bushes

He likes the highest leaves for some reason …

I also appreciate that he stays in plain sight.  I don’t have to worry about him crawling around and getting on us or anything.  He hangs out at his perch and just wants to be left alone.  I’m happy to oblige.

  • Angy

    i like that munchkin so much… live long and mate a lot.

  • Tyler Phillips

    It looks like it’s an Opilione, which is not actually a spider. The interesting thing though is that depending on your area, “Grand Daddy Long Legs” can refer to a few different types of bugs.

    • http://www.joshuakennon.com/ Joshua Kennon

      Thanks for the info! That was an interesting read (I’m started clicking through a maze of information to read about Opiliones after I saw your comment to see how they work). Their behavior is so different from most other similar insects – the males guard and clean the eggs to protect them from females, who would eat them? They aren’t just pure hunters and can survive as a scavenger if necessary. The fact that each of their legs has what amounts to an internal pacemaker to keep it twitching if detached, distracting predators as they make an escape, seems like a very cool evolutionary advantage. I was not aware of any of this! Who’d have thought granddaddy long legs were so different and, in this case, not actually a spider at all?

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