Pholcus phalangioides (Longbodied Cellar Spider)

About Pholcus phalangioides

Taxonomic Hierarchy

→ Kingdom: Animalia
→ Phylum: Arthropoda
→ Class: Arachnida
→ Order: Araneae
→ Family: Pholcidae
→ Genus: Pholcus
→ Species: Pholcus phalangioides

Common Name (Official / AAS)

Longbodied Cellar Spider

Other Common Names

Cellar Spider, Daddy Longlegs

Author

Author of species name: Johann C. Fuesslin. First year published: 1775, as Aranea phalangoides.

Pronunciation

FOHL-kuss fuh-lan-gee-OY-deez

Meaning

Pholcus can mean either “bandy-legged” or “squinty-eyed” in Greek, but the intended meaning in the case of this spider is uncertain, though it is assumed that Walckenaer meant for it to mean “squinty-eyed” (Cameron 2005). We couldn’t find a written record of Fuesslin’s intended meaning of his chosen specific epithet, phalangioides, but we assume that it was from the Greek noun φαλάγγιον (phalangion), meaning “a kind of spider.” The Greek suffix –oides signifies “likeness” or “resemblance” and is often used in zoology to create new names from already existing ones. So we speculate that maybe Fuesslin chose phalangioides because he noted some general physical similarities (long, skinny legs?) to Phalangium Linnaeus, 1758, which is a genus of “harvestmen,” order Opiliones. In other words, phalangioides probably means “looks like a harvestmen (or daddy longlegs).”

Identifying Traits of Pholcus phalangioides

Size

Body length (excluding legs) of adult female ranges from 7-10 mm; adult males range from 6-10 mm.

Female Primary Colors

Male Primary Colors

Eye diagram of Pholcus phalangioides

Eyes

Total of eight eyes. There’s a cluster of three eyes on each side, with two small eyes in between. See eye diagram for clarification.

Legs

Legs are very, very long and thin; delicate-looking. They are grayish-brown with bands of white and black at the joints. The front legs on an adult of this species can be up to 50 mm in length (sometimes more).  All legs are covered in hairs not visible to the naked eye. Tip of each leg has 3 claws (like most web-based spiders do).

Body

Abdomen of both genders is cylindrical and elongated. Pregnant females will exhibit a more spherical abdomen. Abdomen color is an overall grayish-brown with occasional translucent areas and patches of dark gray and beige. Cephalothorax is beige with two dark gray markings in the center.

Range of Pholcus phalangioides

Pholcus phalangioides can be found in the following states, provinces and territories across the United States and Canada. Our current understanding of each spider's distribution is drawn from numerous scientific publications and online spider submissions, in order to be as accurate as possible. It is important to remember that spiders do not adhere to the territorial lines decided on by humans, therefore these ranges are subject to change.

Important Range Notes

This is a cosmopolitan species that can be found all over the world, but it is likely endemic (native) to Europe.

United States

Canada

Additional Information

Habitat

Though one of its common names implies that it lives in cellars, that is not always the case; but it does seem to prefer low light areas. This species will live throughout homes and other buildings, as well as caves and rocky overhangs.

Web

Tangled web appears quite messy and unorganized; no defined pattern. May take on the form of a horizontal “sheet” web. Spider hangs upside down (belly up). Older webs have accumulated more dust and particles and are therefore more noticeable.

Season

Since this spider typically lives indoors where the temperature is fairly warm, they can be found at all stages of development throughout the year. Outdoor individuals mature in summer or fall.

Food

Any kind of flying, jumping, or walking insect that enters the web. This species also eats other spiders, including ones much larger than itself. In the Pacific Northwest, they sometimes catch Eratigena agrestis (the “Hobo Spider”) and Tegenaria gigantea (the “Giant House Spider”); in other areas of the U.S., they are sometimes known for catching large wolf spiders. This spider may also invade the web of other members of its own species and eat them.

Lifecycle

Both genders can mature at any time of year when living indoors. It takes roughly one year and five molts to reach adulthood. This species may live for an additional 2-3 years after that. Females wrap their eggs in a few strands of silk and carry them in their chelicerae. Each female may lay up to three egg sacs in her lifetime, each one consisting of about 30 individual eggs. The mother does not typically feed at all while she holds the eggs in her mouth, however it’s not unheard of: they have been witnessed hanging their egg sac in the web temporarily in order to feed, preen, or mate (Eiseman & Charney 2010).

Remarks

Pictures of Pholcus phalangioides (Longbodied Cellar Spider)

General

Female Spiders

Male Spiders

Filtering options are grayed out when we do not have pictures for the given perspective. If you are a spider photographer, you can submit pictures of spiders to help fill any voids in our ever expanding library.
  • Pholcus phalangioides
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • State: Georgia
  • Country: United States
  • Pholcus phalangioides
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • State: Georgia
  • Country: United States
  • Pholcus phalangioides
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • State: Washington, D.C.
  • Country: United States
  • Pholcus phalangioides
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Eyes
  • State: Washington, D.C.
  • Country: United States
  • Pholcus phalangioides
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Eyes
  • State: Washington, D.C.
  • Country: United States
  • Pholcus phalangioides
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Spiderlings
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Pholcus phalangioides
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Pholcus phalangioides
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Eyes
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Pholcus phalangioides
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Gravid
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Pholcus phalangioides
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Egg Sacs, Lateral
  • State: Oregon
  • Country: United States
  • Pholcus phalangioides
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal, Egg Sacs
  • State: Oregon
  • Country: United States
  • Pholcus phalangioides
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Egg Sacs
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Pholcus phalangioides
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Pholcus phalangioides
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Boultham Moor, Lincoln
  • Country: England
  • Pholcus phalangioides
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • State: Michigan
  • Country: United States
  • Pholcus phalangioides
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal, Webs
  • State: Michigan
  • Country: United States
  • Pholcus phalangioides
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Egg Sacs, Lateral
  • State: Michigan
  • Country: United States
  • Pholcus phalangioides
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal, Egg Sacs
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Pholcus phalangioides
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • State: Connecticut
  • Country: United States
  • Pholcus phalangioides
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Pholcus phalangioides
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • State: Connecticut
  • Country: United States
  • Pholcus phalangioides
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Eyes, Gravid
  • City/Region: Beltsville
  • State: Maryland
  • Country: United States
  • Pholcus phalangioides
  • Attributes: Webs

References and Further Reading

Various Research Papers

Scientific Diagrams and Keys for Identification

References for the Casual Reader

Species guide last updated: May 28, 2016

Follow Us

Search Spiders.us