• Harvestmen guide
  • harvestman

Harvestmen guide

The FSC Harvestmen guide features photographs of all species found in the wild in Britain and Ireland. The accompanying species identification table covers the body size, body shape, colour and adult activity for each species.

Harvestmen are spider-like invertebrates, often with very long legs compared to their small round bodies. Although they are not spiders, they do belong to the arachnid order Opiliones. Like spiders, they have 8 legs. Unlike spiders, the whole body appears as one unit, without the ‘waist’ seen in spiders. Harvestmen do not produce silk or spin webs. Instead they ambush their prey, which can include springtails, flies, aphids, leaf-hoppers, mites and woodlice. They can also feed on carrion and decomposing vegetable matter. One species of harvestman specialises in eating snails. Harvestmen only have two eyes, usually raised on a prominent turret called an ocularium.

Different adult harvestmen species occur throughout the year. But most British species mature in the autumn. Indeed the name harvestman may come from the fact that many species are most visible around harvest time in late summer and autumn. Eggs are laid in damp soil or moist vegetation, and usually hatch in the spring. Some species reproduce throughout the year. As they grow, the young shed their skin up to seven or eight times before becoming mature. Most harvestmen live for about a year.

The FSC Harvestmen guide was produced in partnership with Museums Sheffield.