May 2, 2010
We came across this spider, hiking Hollenbeck Canyon, in Jamul, CA. I have not seen it on any of of many hikes. Can you identify it? My husband, the Eagle Scout, claims it’s some sort of a stink-spider?? I can’t find it in photos, anywhere. … thanks!
Jamul, CA

Harvestman with Mites

Hi Sharon,
This is not a spider, but rather, a member of the order Opiliones, known as Harvestmen or Daddy Long Legs.  We are intrigued by your husband’s name “Stink Spider” and we have our own recollection of Harvestmen releasing a foul odor.  When we researched that idea, we found the CritterZone website which states:  “When disturbed, they emit a foul odor from their scent glands. To would be predators, this is a clear warning that harvestmen taste terrible.
”  Unlike spiders, Harvestmen do not have venom, and many species are scavengers that feed on dead invertebrates and decaying fruits and vegetables, though other species use their crushing mouthparts to feed on invertebrate prey.  The red spots are Parasitic Mites, probably in the genus Leptus and according to BugGuide: “The larvae are generalist parasites of terrestrial arthropods. A number of species in this genus are described as parasites of North American harvestmen.

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