Daddy Longlegs Colony in an Abandoned Oklahoma Castle

A friend of mine recently suggested posting more photo-related entries, especially material that is non-weather related (wouldn’t appear on SkyPix), but still either interesting or high-quality. Excellent idea…something I don’t know why I didn’t do all along. The first such entry isn’t necessarily photogenic in the captivating sense, but surely was interesting.

My kids and I recently spent a day at Turner Falls Park (Arbuckles, southern Oklahoma), swimming, hiking and doing a little photography. Before we headed for our favorite swimming hole (a small, cold, clear, spring-fed pool well off the beaten path), we climbed up a hill into one of the abandoned stone structures that was part of former OU professor Dr. Ellsworth Collings’ “castle” complex, built in the 1930s as a day retreat and to entertain guests. Today, the steps up to them are eroding, the paint within peeling away, brush encroaching from all sides.

This was just part of a roost of a thousand or more daddy longlegs, gathered on the ceiling of an accessory building for the Collings castle, and hardly moving. Imagine being in there at night, especially after hearing haunted-castle stories, maybe a hooting barred owl somewhere nearby, then having these fall on you. It would be harmless, but to some, creepy.

My son tossed a stick into the mass to see if any would come down. And after a few seconds’ delay, some did – in a thick, perhaps one square foot clump of intertwined, entangled arachnid legs. When the featherweight ball of longlegs hit the floor, they separated, scattering randomly, but all scurrying up a wall as soon as they reached one. Eventually the separated critters rejoined the roosting mass on the ceiling.


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