Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory






Regional Maps


Daddy-long-legs, Harvest Spiders

Compiler and date details

December 2010 - ABRS following advice from Christopher Taylor, Curtin University, Western Australia

31 August 2003 - Glenn S. Hunt, Australian Museum, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia Mark S. Harvey, Western Australian Museum, Perth, Western Australia, Australia


Opiliones, often referred to as harvestmen or daddy-long-legs, are a cosmopolitan group of arachnids that can be distinguished from spiders by the lack of a pedicel joining the cephalothorax and abdomen (Harvey & Yen 1989). Three suborders are generally recognised (e.g. Shear 1982) and the order is currently divided into more than 30 families (e.g. Shear 1980, 1982). Shultz (1998) and Shultz & Regier (2001) have presented an assessment of the major groupings within the Opiliones and their data support the recognition of three major clades, Cyphophthalmi, Laniatores and Palpatores; the latter two were detected as sister-groups and form the clade Phalangida.

The indigenous Australian opilionid fauna is well developed with representatives of all three suborders placed in 10 families. A further two families are represented by introduced species: the Gagrellidae by Nelima doriae (Canestrini), and the Phalangiidae by Opilio parietinus (de Geer). Endemism is extremely high at the generic level with some 61 genera restricted to Australia. Five of the remaining genera (Neopurcellia Forster, Rakaia Hirst, Triaenonyx Sörensen, Acropsopilio Silvestri and Austropsopilio Forster) are restricted to two or more southern continents, while species of Zalmoxis also occur in the south-western Pacific region to the north of Australia.

Many of the species listed in this Catalogue were described by Carl F. Roewer (1881–1963) in a series of major publications spanning several decades from 1910 to his death in 1963 (Kraus 1963). Unfortunately, many of these descriptions are extremely poor by modern standards, and Roewer's modus operandi with regard to developing generic and familial classifications often has been found to be wanting. Some recent revisions (e.g. Hunt 1985, 1990, 1992, 1995; Hunt & Cokendolpher 1991; Hunt & Hickman 1993) resolved many long-standing problems, but further research is necessary to clarify the identity and relationships of many Australian taxa.


This contribution was developed after the untimely death of Glenn Hunt in 1999 and is based upon a list of Australian Opiliones and a list of references that he regularly updated. The remainder of the contribution was completed by M.S.H.

Funding from the Australian Biological Resources Study assisted G.S.H.'s research on Australian harvestmen, and M.S.H. thanks Alice Wells (ABRS) and Keith Houston (formerly with ABRS) for their editorial assistance.

Limital Area

Distribution data in the Directory is by political and geographic region descriptors and serves as a guide to the distribution of a taxon. For details of a taxon's distribution, the reader should consult the cited references (if any) at genus and species levels.

Australia is defined as including Lord Howe Is., Norfolk Is., Cocos (Keeling) Ils, Christmas Is., Ashmore and Cartier Ils, Macquarie Is., Australian Antarctic Territory, Heard and McDonald Ils, and the waters associated with these land areas of Australian political responsibility. Political areas include the adjacent waters.

Terrestrial geographical terms are based on the drainage systems of continental Australia, while marine terms are self explanatory except as follows: the boundary between the coastal and oceanic zones is the 200 m contour; the Arafura Sea extends from Cape York to 124 DEG E; and the boundary between the Tasman and Coral Seas is considered to be the latitude of Fraser Island, also regarded as the southern terminus of the Great Barrier Reef.

Distribution records, if any, outside of these areas are listed as extralimital. The distribution descriptors for each species are collated to genus level. Users are advised that extralimital distribution for some taxa may not be complete.


Excluded Taxa


GAGRELLIDAE: Zaleptus marmoratus Roewer, 1910 — Roewer, C.F. 1955. Indoaustralische Gagrellinae (Opiliones, Arachnida) (Weitere Weberknechte XVIII) 3. Teil. Senckenbergiana Biologica 36: 123-171 [136] (female holotype (MNHN) stated to be Australia; Roewer (1955) considered the type locality to be located in New Guinea)


General References

Giribet, G., Vogt, L., González, A.P., Sharma, P. & Kury, A.B. 2009. A multilocus approach to harvestman (Arachnida: Opiliones) phylogeny with emphasis on biogeography and the systematics of Laniatores. Cladistics 25: 1–30

Harvey, M.S. & Yen, A.L. 1989. Worms to Wasps: An Illustrated Guide to Australia's Terrestrial Invertebrates. Melbourne : Oxford University Press/Museum of Victoria 203 pp.

Hunt, G.S. 1985. Taxonomy and distribution of Equitius in eastern Australia (Opiliones: Laniatores: Triaenonychidae). Records of the Australian Museum 36: 107-125

Hunt, G.S. 1990. Hickmanoxyomma, a new genus of cavernicolous harvestmen from Tasmania (Opiliones: Triaenonychidae). Records of the Australian Museum 42: 45-68

Hunt, G.S. 1992. Revision of the genus Holonuncia Forster (Arachnida, Opiliones, Triaenonychidae) with description of cavernicolous and epigean species from eastern Australia. Records of the Australian Museum 44: 135-163

Hunt, G.S. 1995. Revision of the harvestman genus Miobunus from Tasmania (Arachnida: Opiliones: Triaenonychidae). Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 52: 243-252

Hunt, G.S. & Cokendolpher, J.C. 1991. Ballarrinae, a new subfamily of phalangioid harvestmen from the Southern Hemisphere (Arachnida, Opiliones, Neopilionidae). Records of the Australian Museum 43: 131-169

Hunt, G.S. & Hickman, J.L. 1993. Revision of the genus Lomanella Pocock with implications for family level classification in the Travunioidea (Arachnida: Opiliones: Triaenonychidae). Records of the Australian Museum 45: 81-119

Kraus, O. 1963. Carl-Friedrich Roewer 1881-1963. Senckenbergiana Biologica 44: 553-562

Shear, W.A. 1980. A review of the Cyphophthalmi of the United States and Mexico, with a proposed reclassification of the suborder (Arachnida, Opiliones). American Museum Novitates 2705: 1-34

Shear, W.A. 1982. Opiliones. pp. 104-110 in Parker, S.P. (ed.). Synopsis and Classification of Living Organisms. New York : McGraw-Hill Vol. 2.

Shultz, J.W. 1998. Phylogeny of Opiliones (Arachnida): an assessment of the "Cyphopalpatores" concept. Journal of Arachnology 26: 257-272

Shultz, J.W. & J.C. Regier 2001. Phylogenetic analysis of Phalangida (Arachnida, Opiliones) using two nuclear protein-encoding genes supports monophyly of Palpatores. Journal of Arachnology 29: 189-200


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
26-Jun-2023 OPILIONES 26-Jun-2023 MODIFIED
02-Apr-2015 OPILIONES 24-May-2023 MODIFIED Dr Federica Turco
11-Aug-2014 OPILIONES 26-Jun-2023 MODIFIED Mark Harvey
07-May-2013 26-Jun-2023 MODIFIED
26-Jun-2023 MODIFIED