Harvestmen are in arachnids, and though they look similar to spiders, they are in fact more closely related to scorpions – they have only two eyes, their abdomens are not segmented and they lack silk glands.

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Harvestmen are slow-moving creatures, active by night or at dawn and dusk. During the day, you’ll usually find them resting on tree-trunks or under logs. They can’t see well, so use their second, longest pair of legs to feel the way ahead. Though they do take small prey, they also scavenge dead insects and bird droppings, and feed on decaying plant material and fungi.

Like scorpions, harvestmen hunt prey using the pincer claws on the front of the head. These are much shorter than the hand-like front limbs of scorpions, but are still powerful enough to tackle tiny, soft-bodied invertebrates in the herbage.

They are also sit-and-wait predators, using their limbs to feel for passing meals, and there are anecdotal reports that they use their long legs to lower themselves onto unsuspecting prey. Harvestmen also scavenge dead insects and other animals, bird droppings and other decaying organic matter.

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Main image: A female Leiobunum rotundum harvestman. © Arterra/UIG/Getty

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