Do spiders have 8 or 6 eyes?

Spiders are fascinating creatures that have evolved specialized eyes and vision systems to help them survive in their environments. But just how many eyes do spiders have? The quick answer is that most spiders have 8 eyes, arranged in patterns that enhance their field of view. However, some spiders have fewer than 8 eyes, so the number of eyes can vary between spider species. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at spider eyes – how they work, their capabilities, and why different species have different numbers of eyes.

How many eyes do most spiders have?

The majority of spiders have 8 eyes, which are usually arranged in 2 rows of 4. Having multiple pairs of eyes gives spiders a wide field of vision and allows them to detect prey and threats approaching from nearly any direction. Here’s a quick rundown of some key facts about the typical spider’s 8 eyes:

  • Arranged in 2 rows of 4 eyes each
  • Front row has the largest, main eyes
  • Back row has smaller secondary eyes
  • Each eye has its own lens, cornea, retina, etc.
  • Main eyes have exceptional vision and can form images
  • Secondary eyes have poorer vision but detect motion well

This arrangement of 8 total eyes allows spiders to see objects clearly both near and far. The main eyes typically point forward to provide excellent binocular vision and depth perception for hunting and capturing prey. The smaller secondary eyes are geared more for detecting peripheral motion and enhancing the spider’s overall awareness of its surroundings.

Do all spiders have 8 eyes?

While the majority of spiders do have 8 eyes, there are some exceptions. Here are a few examples of spiders that deviate from the standard 8 eyes:

  • Jumping spiders have only 6 eyes arranged in 3 rows
  • Some tarantulas have between 6 and 8 eyes
  • Trapdoor spiders have only 2 to 8 eyes
  • Some families like Oonopidae have 6 eyes
  • Caponiidae spiders have only 2 eyes

So in short, although 8 eyes is the standard for most spiders, the number can vary from as few as 2 up to 8 eyes depending on the species.

Why do some spiders have 6 eyes?

There are a few theories as to why some spiders like jumping spiders and tarantulas have 6 eyes instead of the usual 8:

  • Their other 2 eyes may have been lost through evolution
  • 6 eyes are adequate for their vision needs
  • The different eye placement improves certain fields of vision
  • Having fewer eyes conserves energy

For example, many jumping spiders have 3 rows of 2 eyes each. This eye arrangement gives them exceptional binocular vision in front for judging distances accurately when pouncing on prey. Their side eyes still allow for good peripheral awareness too. So for some spiders, 6 strategically placed eyes can provide all the visual advantages they need to thrive.

Do male and female spiders have the same number of eyes?

In almost all spider species, both male and female spiders have the same number of eyes and eye arrangement. The only exception is among some tarantulas, where males may have 6 eyes and females have 8 eyes in certain species. But in general, eye number and configuration are not sexually dimorphic traits in spiders as they are in some insect species.

Can spiders move or rotate their eyes?

Most spiders cannot significantly move or rotate their eyes within their head area. A spider’s eyes are fixed in place and have a wide field of view but minimal movement. However, jumping spiders are a notable exception – they can move their main eyes independently to gain an even wider scanning range. Jumping spiders have specialized muscles attached to their eyes that allow the forward-facing main eyes to rotate and scan a full 180 degrees.

How good is a spider’s vision?

Here are some key facts about the visual capabilities of spider eyes:

  • Excellent motion detection
  • Sensitive to details, shadows, and movements
  • Main eyes have sharp vision for spotting prey
  • Jumping spiders have highest visual acuity
  • Can only see clearly up to about 30 cm away
  • Have poor perception of stationary objects
  • Limited color vision, can’t see red light

So spiders are adept at detecting the slightest movements, which helps them quickly spot potential prey while also avoiding potential threats that may be approaching. Their vision is geared for movement and depth perception more than analyzing still objects or discerning color.

Do spiders ever have problems with their eyes or vision?

Like any specialized organ, a spider’s eyes are vulnerable to damage, diseases, and other vision problems. Here are some common issues that can affect spider eyes and vision:

  • Injury – Broken lenses, torn retinas, etc.
  • Degeneration from age
  • Cataracts – Clouding of the lenses
  • Glaucoma – Buildup of pressure in the eyes
  • Parasites – Mites that feed on eye fluids
  • Infections – Bacteria, fungi, and viruses
  • Congenital defects – Resulting from mutations

These types of vision issues can significantly impair a spider’s ability to find food, move around safely, detect threats, and survive in the wild. In captivity, eye problems may be treatable through vet care in some cases.

Do all the eyes work together as a visual system?

A spider’s 8 eyes are connected and work together to provide a comprehensive visual system. Here’s how the eyes work in tandem:

  • Main eyes focus directly ahead
  • Side secondary eyes expand field of view
  • Overlapping fields of vision from each eye
  • Allows spiders to scan all directions
  • Different eye types detect various details
  • Brain compiles input into full vision picture

So while each set of eyes has their strengths and weaknesses, their fields of view overlap to provide a synthesized panoramic visual sense. The spider’s central nervous system integrates the input from all the eyes to form a comprehensive representation of the world around them.

Can spiders see at night or in the dark?

Spiders do not see well in darkness or low light conditions. While their eyes are highly sensitive to light and motion, most cannot see infrared radiation or light levels below that of dim starlight. However, recent research indicates that some jumping spiders may have limited night vision capabilities:

  • Main eyes have higher rod density than cones
  • May allow sensing dim light and shapes at night
  • Still orders of magnitude poorer than cats or owls
  • Likely use to detect moonlight and navigate at night
  • Majority of spiders cannot see in total darkness

So the night vision abilities of most spiders are quite limited. They rely heavily on their other senses like touch and vibration detection to navigate, hunt, and survive when no sunlight is available.

Do spiders ever sleep and close their eyes?

Spiders do not actually sleep in the same manner as humans and other animals. But they do enter periodic restful states and may close their eyes for intervals. Here are some key facts about spider “sleep” patterns:

  • No true sleep like mammals with cycles
  • Enter dormant state of reduced activity
  • May last from minutes to hours
  • Close eyes or tuck legs under body
  • May appear asleep, but remain alert
  • Still reactive to stimuli like prey or threats

So spiders essentially take short power naps to conserve energy. But they don’t have true REM cycle sleep. Their eyes are built to stay open for long periods, so sustained eye closing mainly happens during inactive rest.

Do spiders blink their eyes?

Spiders do not have eyelids and do not blink in the same way humans do. However, they do have a thin layer of hair that covers their eyes. These hairs act analogously to eyelids and help keep eyes clean and protected:

  • Spider eyes have protective cover of hairs
  • Act like eyelashes to block debris
  • Spider moves legs to brush over hairs
  • Cleans dust and particles away
  • Helps wipe eyes without direct contact

So while spider eyes remain open continuously, they have specialized hairs adapted to keep their eyes clear and “blink” away irritants. Species like jumping spiders actively clean their eyes regularly to maintain peak vision.

Do spiders have problems with cobwebs in their own eyes?

Interestingly, spiders do not trap themselves or cloud their vision with their own cobwebs. Here are some reasons why spider eyes stay clear:

  • Cobweb silk released in controlled threads
  • Spiders can retract and stop silk flow
  • Silk emerges from abdomens, away from eyes
  • Legs used to precisely place strands
  • Avoid own web until sticky threads set
  • May clean eyes with legs if needed

So while cobwebs may snare other insects, spiders have the awareness and control to avoid sticking themselves with their own silk. Their eyes are positioned away from silk emergence, and they take care to steer clear until cobwebs are no longer tacky.

Do all types of spider eyes work the same way?

While all spider eyes share the same basic structure and function, some types of spiders do have visual adaptations tailored to their environments and hunting behaviors. Here are a few examples:

  • Jumping spiders – High acuity vision, moving retinas, bright colors
  • Wolf spiders – Keen night vision abilities
  • Web-building spiders – Motion detection to vibration sense web disturbances
  • Crab spiders – UV sensitivity to see flower colors that attract prey
  • Huntsman spiders – Peripheral motion detection suited for fast running

So while their eye structures are fundamentally similar, different spiders have tuned their vision through evolutionary adaptations to excel at specific hunting techniques and environmental conditions.


While most spiders have 8 eyes, some species definitively have fewer, with 6 being a common alternative number. Regardless of exact eye count, a spider’s eyes work together to give them excellent all-around motion detection and depth perception. Each eye type plays a role in sensing prey, detecting threats, and navigating terrain. Spider eyes are complex visual systems that utilize a variety of adaptations to help the spider survive in its environment. So the next time you see a spider up close, take a moment to admire the intricacies of its specialized eyes!

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