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General information about the harvestman
The harvestmen form their own arachnid order alongside spiders, mites and scorpions. There are around four thousand different species around the world, with around 110 species of harvestmen at home in Central Europe.
The harvestman (Opiliones), also known as a shoemaker or tailor, is an acquaintance in Germany from the garden, garage or cellar. According to the Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU) there are around 40 different types of harvestmen in Germany.
Worldwide there are even 4,000 species recorded, which can be up to 22 millimeters in size. The smallest harvestmen, however, only grow to be 2 millimeters. Harvesters have a round, small body and very long, thin legs.
In front of these are the so-called jaw buttons, too Pedipalps called. The pedipalps are tiny mouthparts that the harvestmen use mainly to grope and catch their prey.
Although they are often mistakenly mistaken for spiders, the harvestmen belong only to the class of arachnids and in this to the order of the harvestmen. Internally, the harvestmen go back to the three subordinates Cyphophthalmi, Palpatores and Laniatores divided up.
Spider or harvester? The differences:
In contrast to the spiders, the harvester does not have a front and a back body, but both body parts have grown together. In addition, the harvestman does not have spinnerets with which threads and nets can be produced, since he lacks the spinnerets.
Instead, harvestmen have stink glands which, when attacked, secrete a foul-smelling secretion that can paralyze or even kill what is eaten.
Other special features
Since harvestmen cannot spin webs, they are best on foot. The arachnids can loop their very long and extremely flexible eight legs like a lasso around blades of grass or twigs, allowing them to move very quickly from plant to plant.
In addition, the harvester's legs are provided with predetermined breaking points: In extreme danger, the harvester can throw off a leg that twitches and distracts the hunter while the harvester escapes.
Harvesters also have small jaw claws (Chelicerae), but they are too weak to damage human skin. Instead, the jaw claws (Chelicerae) mostly food intake.
The trembling spider: Attention, risk of confusion!
It is not uncommon for the harvester to be confused with the trembling spider. Both animals are very delicate, have eight legs and are often mistaken for Pests held. In fact, the animals are Household helpers. In contrast to the harvestman, the trembling spider can - as its name suggests - spin webs. In it the spider catches mosquitoes and real pests.
distribution and habitat
Harvesters are found all over the world. The arachnids live on bushes, meadows and trees, but also in the ground or crevices. Some species like to stay on house walls or in human dwellings.
Food: What do harvestmen eat?
Harvesters usually go looking for food at night. Then the omnivores prey on walls, between cracks in the rock and on the ground for their food. These include small arthropods, small dead animals, and plant materials.
Reproduction and offspring
After a male fertilizes a female, the female lays the eggs in tiny crevices or holes in the bottom. In the rain, the females do not take care of their offspring after they lay eggs. Only in a few South American species has a male been observed to build the nest and guard the eggs of the young.
Brief profile: The harvestman
- Surname: Harvester
- Other names: Tailor, shoemaker, kanker
- Latin name: Opiliones
- class: Arachnids
- order: Harvestmen
- size: 5 - 20 millimeters
- Life expectancy: 1 year
- food: Insects
- distribution: worldwide
- habitat: Heath, moors, forest, meadow
- natural enemies: insectivorous birds
- Mating season: depending on location
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