Location: Crete, Greece
February 4, 2011 6:42 am
I hope that you may be able to ID this ’creature’ for me. It is very much like a spider, but moves very slowly. When touched it ’plays dead’ and goes rigid for about 10 minutes, whereupon it will start to move again. It varies in size, anything from 1/4” long to 1” long. I found it in the bottom of my empty swimming pool (obviously fell in/was blown in) in Crete, Greece.
Signature: no problem

Cretan Creatures are Harvestmen

Hi Carol,
We opened your email just prior to leaving for a long long day at work yesterday, and we didn’t have the time to post.  We did not crop into your images because we wanted to protect the integrity of your post-production enhancements.  We are very puzzled by these creatures, and they seem to resemble Ticks.  We are hoping to get some professional assistance with your identification request.

Cretan Creatures in the order Opiliones

You can compare your creatures to photos of Ticks online, including the photos on this Texas Cooperative Extension website.

Cretan Creatures are Harvestmen

Hi, Daniel.
Many thanks for your quick response.  I looked at the Texas Co-operative Extension website, and would agree that they do rather resemble ticks, but I didn’t know that ticks were as large as these, some I have found with bodies as long as 1″.
I shall be most interested to hear further from you with hopefully a guranteed identification.
Many thanks for your help with this matter.

Entomologist Julian Donahue provides input
Hi Daniel,
They’re clearly arachnids. At first, I thought that they might be in the order Ricinulei (“tick spiders”) because of the hood-like structure at the anterior end, but the body shape and legs appear to be all wrong.
Although the mouthparts aren’t visible in the photo, my best guess is that they are unengorged ticks, based upon the body shape and the long legs.
Julian P. Donahue

Ed. Note: Thanks to a comment from Mirta in Patagonia, we now know that these unusual creatures are actually Harvestmen in the order Opiliones.  Here is a photo on Nature Photo and some images on the Natura Mediterraneo website as well.  Though we shy away from linking to Wikipedia, we did find this information there:  “The Trogulidae are a family of harvestmen with about 45 known species.  Members of this species have short legs and live in soil. They have dirt attached to their bodies, to escape predators. Their body length ranges from 2 to 22 mm. The body is in most genera somewhat flattened and leathery. Adults have a small hood, which hides their short chelicerae and pedipalps.

Many thanks to everyone for their help in identifying these creatures, I really appreciate your trouble.  If I find anything else I can’t ID, which is highly likely, then I know where to come!

Location: Greece

2 Responses to Harvestmen: Mysterious Cretan Creatures resemble Ticks

  1. Mirta Carbajal says:

    Hi Carol and Daniel
    I believe they are opilions, family Trogulidae, genus Trogulus, from the Palpatores suborder
    Hope this help to find the species.
    Hugs from Patagonia

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