April 22, 2022
VMNH Administrator of Science Ben Williams here with another #BenInNature update for all you nature lovers out there...
We're all familiar with harvestmen -- better known as "daddy long legs" -- but this guy is something a little bit different! It's a type of armored harvestman belonging to the genus Vonones, of which there are just two described species: V. ornatus and V. sayi (they look very similar, so I'm not sure which of the two this little fellow is). The genus Vonones belongs to the family Cosmetidae, of which there are more than 700 species spread throughout South America, Central America, and Mexico; however, the two species in Vonones are the only members of the family you're likely to find in the U.S.!
Harvestmen belong to the arachnid family, but they're not spiders. The easiest way to tell the difference is that spiders have two visible body segments while harvestmen have a very broad connection between their two segments, making the body resemble a single structure.
There's an old urban legend that harvestmen are secretly among the most venomous animals on Earth, but their fangs are too small to penetrate our skin. Fortunately, this is nothing more than a myth; harvestmen don't have any venom at all and are perfectly safe to handle!