How Many Eyes Does a Spider Have?

A spider typically has eight eyes, which are typically placed in two rows, on the front of the carapace.

  • The rows are described as:
    • Anterior (A)
    • Posterior (P)
  • Within the rows, the position is:
    • Lateral (L)
    • Median (M)
  • The eyes are divided into two types:
    • The AME (anterior median eyes) or direct eyes differ markedly in structure from the other eyes.
    • The other eyes are indirect eyes and include:
      • ALE (anterior lateral eyes)
      • PLE (posterior lateral eyes)
      • PME (posterior median eyes)

It is worth mentioning that the eyes of spiders are quite different from the eyes of other animals, as spiders have multiple eyes with a complex structure that allows them to perceive light, movement, and distance in different ways.

Type of Eye Number Location on Carapace Function
Direct 4 Front Hunting and navigation
Indirect 4 Front Detecting movement

It’s worth noting that the number, location, and function of eyes may vary depending on the species of spider.


As you may have discovered, spiders are some of nature’s most remarkable creatures. They are arachnids, meaning they belong to a class of arthropods that also includes scorpions and mites. They have eight legs and a complex body made up of two distinct parts. But do they have eyes? If so, how many do they have and what purpose do those eyes serve?

To answer these questions, it is essential to understand how spiders use their vision in the wild and how their eyesight has evolved over millions of years. In this article, I will discuss the fascinating details of spider eyes – from structures to functions – in an effort to answer the question: How many eyes does a spider have? I will also include references for further study on the subject.

Anatomy of a Spider’s Eye

One of the most interesting and intricate parts of a spider’s anatomy is its eyes. A spider typically has eight eyes arranged in two rows of four, each with different structures and functions. It is fascinating to observe the complexity of these eyes and all the ways that spiders use them for survival.

In this article, I will discuss the anatomy and function of a spider’s eye, so you can gain an even deeper appreciation for these incredible creatures.

Number of Eyes

Spiders are usually known for having eight eyes – four pairs of small eyes that each has different structures and functions. But, this isn’t always the case as some spiders may possess fewer than eight eyes.

The four primary eyes that all arachnids have are called anterior median (AM), posterior median (PM), anterior lateral (AL), and posterior lateral (PL). These all point in the same downward direction, allowing the spider to look straight ahead for an entire 360 degrees of vision. More specifically, the AM pair provides an acute vision for finding prey, while PM gives sharp central vision with a wide panoramic view; AL has a peripheral vision for detecting movement; and PL senses distortions from intense light sources or shadows.

Furthermore, studies suggest that spiders’ eyes don’t actually see in color due to a lack of ‘true’ photoreceptors. Rather they have both cone-like and rod-like receptors that work together to enable stereoscopic responses from stimuli such as sunlight which is then translated into brightness differences perceived by their brains. For example, if a spider senses a dark space it will likely hide or attempt to quickly move away.

Generally speaking, while spiders may typically have eight eyes arranged in two rows of four, there can be substantial variations between species depending on several factors such as size and level of complexity at each eye part region. Some species even have up to twelve separate arranged appendages on its head, serving an important purpose when it comes to hunting their prey.

Arrangement of Eyes

A spider typically has eight eyes arranged in two rows of four. The top row of four eyes is known as the “anterior lateral eyes” and the bottom row of four eyes is called the “posterior median eyes.” Each type of eye is composed of a unique combination of visual structures and serves a different purpose for a spider’s vision.

The anterior lateral eyes are located toward the sides of a spider’s head and are used for binocular vision and depth perception, similar to how humans use their two front-facing eyes. They are larger than other types of spider eyes and contain an inner lens, as well as an outer lens located on small stalks. The arrangement and size differential among the anterior lateral eyes allow spiders to judge distances in order to capture prey or flee from predators with remarkable accuracy.

The posterior median eyes are smaller in size than anterior lateral ones, shaped like oval polygons, and strongly resemble that of insect compound eyes. They have no internal lenses but instead, possess light-sensitive cells that are directed upwards toward the sky with rigid trunks. Posterior medians provide spiders with good overall vision while hunting at night by allowing them to detect movement against various light intensities around them from stars and moonlight reflected from surfaces such as water or wet vegetation.

By having eight separate elements in their visual system, spiders can detect subtle details in their environment that might be undetectable for most animals, such as small variations in light intensity or directionality of motion patterns nearby. Overall this helps indicates how spiders can utilize an eight-eye system efficiently when hunting or avoiding predators by carefully observing multiple aspects of their environment.

Structures and Functions

Among the most distinct eye types is the forward-facing anterior medial eyes (AMEs). These eyes are most strongly associated with a high-acuity vision for detecting prey, predators, and navigation cues. The secondary median eyes (SMEs) are located posterior to the AMEs and detect short-distance objects. Parallel to each other sits the anterior lateral eyes (ALEs) which detect prey movements from side to side across a wide field of view. Posterior lateral eyes (PLEs) allow spiders to have night vision and detect movement at long distances in low-light conditions.

The two rows of multi-lens eyes on a spider’s body often contain up to four pairs of pigmented elements with their own specialization. The crescent shape indicates their division into three specialized sections – anterior, central, and posterior areas. The outermost section may be single or double lenses that sense motion within a 180-degree angle while the innermost lenses provide more detailed vision over a shorter field of view as compared to distant objects detected by the outermost lenses.

Depending on the species, some spiders also possess additional accessory structures such as tapetum lucidum cells between each ommatidium cell which reflect backlight for better image capture in unclear environments or poor lighting conditions. Additionally, these enhanced eye designs are accompanied by complex facial hairs known as setae that guide individual particles towards external organs such as chemoreceptors responsible for their sense of taste or smell – allowing them greater research capabilities than mammals alone possess.

Types of Spider Eyes

Simple Eyes

Spiders have simple eyes, called ocelli, because they are composed of simple corneal lenses connected to nerve cells. These eyes only detect changes in light and dark, allowing them to detect the approach of predators around them. Simple eyes are also useful for navigation when spiders find their way in the dark. During the day, spiders often keep their simple eyes closed.

The number of simple eyes varies by spider species. Some spider species may possess six simple eyes while other species have four to eight or more depending on their type and size. The placement of these simple eyes can inform us about a spider’s daily activities and habitats as well as their sensitivity to light and darkness.

Compound Eyes

The eyes located at the top of the head are called the primary eyes or simple eyes. These are smaller and less evolved than their counterparts, called the secondary or compound eyes.

Compound eyes have been further sub-classified into four types: anterior medial, anterior lateral, posterior medial, and posterior lateral. The compound eyes are made up of numerous individual units known collectively as ommatidia. Each ommatidium is composed of a lens, a crystalline cone, and several light-sensitive cells which together capture light from different angles and create an image for the spider to interpret – allowing for greater vertical vision range than simpler eye structures.

The positioning and composition of compound eyes can vary greatly between different spider species, depending on their preferred behavior patterns – some species may even possess more than eight total simple/compound eye sets combined! As such, they can feature anything from converging vision (aiding in capturing prey) to panoramic view capabilities (for wider field surveillance).

Compound eyes also offer interesting insight into behavior patterns; when seen through an electron microscope, structures referred to as locking basins – varying in shape and size – are distributed across their surface and filled with pigment particles that absorb light energy or reflect it off-course in order to control visual perception accuracy during motion detections.

Adaptations of Spider Eyes

Spiders have evolved adaptive eyes to help them see their prey and predators in their environment. Each spider typically has eight eyes, which are arranged in two rows of four and have different structures and functions.

In this article, I will explore the different adaptations of spider eyes and how they benefit the spider in its daily life. I will also take a look at various spider species and the particular adaptations that help them navigate and survive their unique environments:

Protective Structures

The eyes of a spider are often covered by hard protective structures that help keep debris and other objects out of the eyes. Some species also have eye tufts (or eye brushes), which are motile hairs near the eyes that can detect motion from far away. Other species will have translucent membranes that cover their eyes when they feel threatened, helping to protect their delicate organs and shroud them from predators in their environment.

Additionally, some spiders will have combinations of these structures for added protection for their vital organs, especially since most spiders do not have shells or thick exoskeletons to protect their sensory organs.

Light Sensitivity

Spider eyes are known to have a wide variety of adaptations depending on the species. The two rows of four eyes tend to be specialized for different functions, allowing a spider to monitor its environment from multiple directions. In fact, many spider species have a structure in the strongly colored pair of spiders that makes them more sensitive to light than other eyes.

The primary light-sensitive organs for spiders are called ocelli and consist of a single lens and an underlying visual cell that surrounds an exposed surface area open to the environment. To protect these delicate complex structures from damage, most spiders have eyelid-like membranes which open in the daytime but close during nighttime or when danger approaches.

Additionally, this adapted multi-functional eye system allows spiders to detect even very small movements given their ability to pick up on both gradients in light intensity as well as patterns formed by wavelength variation in visible light waves (polarized light) used by certain spider species such as jumping and wolf spiders to detect potential prey easily even at low levels of illumination.

These many aspects of eye adaptation are why it’s difficult for entomologists and arachnologists alike not only to distinguish some species but also to observe their dietary habits and behaviors!

What is special about spider eyes?

Spiders have unique eyes that are adapted to their hunting and survival needs. Some of the special features of spider eyes include:

  • Large number of eyes: Spiders typically have eight eyes, which is more than most other arthropods.
  • Compound eyes: Most spiders have compound eyes, which are made up of many small, individual eyes called ommatidia. Each ommatidium is capable of detecting light and forming an image.
  • Multi-faceted eyes: The ommatidia in a spider’s eyes are arranged in a multi-faceted pattern, which allows them to see in many different directions at once.
  • Different types of eyes: Spiders have both direct and indirect eyes, which have different structures and functions. Direct eyes are typically larger and are used for tasks such as hunting and navigation, while indirect eyes are smaller and are used for tasks such as detecting movement.
  • High resolution: Some spider species have a high resolution in their eyes, which allows them to detect and track prey effectively.
  • Light-sensitive cells: Spider eyes contain light-sensitive cells called opsins, which detect light and enable spiders to see.
  • UV vision: Some spiders can see ultraviolet light, which allows them to detect certain types of flowers and other UV-reflective objects.

Overall, spider eyes are highly adapted to their environment and hunting habits, which allows them to be effective predators.

Can spiders have more than 8 eyes?

Spiders belong to the class Arachnida, which also includes scorpions, mites, and ticks. They have a distinct body structure, with two main body segments: the cephalothorax and the abdomen. The cephalothorax is where the eyes and the legs are located. Most spiders have eight eyes, which are arranged in two rows on the cephalothorax. However, some species of spiders have six or fewer eyes. For example, some cave-dwelling spiders have lost their eyes entirely, as they have no use for them in the dark caves. Additionally, some jumping spiders have four eyes, arranged in two rows two.

It is important to note that the number of eyes a spider has does not necessarily indicate how well it can see. The quality and capabilities of a spider’s eyes can vary greatly among different species, and some spiders have highly developed eyes that allow them to see in great detail, while others have eyes that are less developed and are only capable of detecting light and dark.

In summary, spiders typically have eight eyes, but some species have six or fewer. There are no known species of spiders that have more than eight eyes. The number of eyes a spider has is not a definitive indicator of its visual capabilities.

Species Number of eyes Eye Speciality
Jumping spiders 4 Large, complex eyes that allow them to see in great detail and accurately judge distances when hunting
Huntsman spiders 8 Large, forward-facing eyes that provide excellent vision for hunting and navigation
Wolf spiders 8 Large, complex eyes that allow them to see in low light and detect movement from a distance
Cave-dwelling spiders 0 No eyes, as they have no use for them in the dark caves
Orb-weaver spiders 8 Large, complex eyes that allow them to see in great detail and accurately judge distances when hunting


In conclusion, a spider typically has eight eyes arranged in two rows of four, each with its own purpose in helping the spider detects and respond to the various stimuli it might encounter. These eyes come in various sizes and shapes, and can provide the spider with a range of visual capabilities, depending on the species. The hairs and bristles are also interesting features that may be utilized for certain activities such as sensing movement or detecting prey.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How many eyes does a spider have?

A: A spider typically has eight eyes arranged in two rows of four, each with different structures and functions.



Samantha is a California-based blogger with a passion for the arts, STEM, and education. With a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts and Computer Science, she explores the intersection of these fields in her engaging and informative blog. Whether attending gallery openings or experimenting with new creative techniques, Samantha is always looking to push the boundaries of what's possible. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading, and spending time with loved ones.

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