A building in Alaska had a chilling Halloween costume this year: It was decked with hundreds of dangling daddy longlegs, photos show.
Rangers at Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday that it seemed as if their administrative building “was sprouting hair, like the Wolf Man.”
But close inspection revealed that what looked like fur was actually hundreds of insects gathered together in a clump on the structure, with their many legs hanging off the building.
“They might cluster together like this for protection or for hunting, but the effect is impressive and perfect for this day,” the rangers wrote. “Happy Haunting!”
The Facebook post had been shared thousands of times within hours.
Rangers also shared facts about the creepy critters in the comments, writing that the daddy longlegs “have their eyes on their backs” and aren’t spiders at all. The daddy longlegs is a close relative of the spider, but it doesn’t have spinnerets (which are silk-making organs) or a constricted waist like its spider relatives, rangers said. Daddy longlegs don’t spin webs, either.
Also called the harvestman, the insect preys on snails, slugs, beetle larvae and other soft-bodied insects, rangers said. They have special glands to emit a strong smell as a protection mechanism.
Several species of the daddy longlegs call Alaska home, according to park rangers.
Responses on social media to the festive post were, well, mixed.
“Can’t like this, exactly,” one grossed-out Facebook user wrote. “Happy Halloween!”
Another put a positive spin on the many-legged gathering.
“They would make great eyelashes,” the Facebook commenter wrote.
Some just had practical concerns for the park rangers in the furry building.
“Good luck keeping those outdoors when it gets colder,” a commenter said.
Photos don’t show the gang of daddy longlegs on the move, but that’s a terrifying possibility as well, Newsweek reported in 2015.
“The whole ‘swarm’ can move simultaneously, looking like a wobbling mass, which must be scary for a predator, and many humans,” said Jonas Wolff, a German doctoral student studying daddy longlegs, Newsweek reported.
And their secreted stink is worse when emitted in unison.
“With a large group, the effect of the repugnatorial glands is much more pronounced and also helps to repel larger predators,” said Prashant Sharma, a postdoctoral fellow at the American Museum of Natural History, Newsweek reported.