Can Spiders See in the Dark

Spiders are fascinating creatures that have fueled human curiosity for centuries. One intriguing aspect of these arachnids is their nocturnal nature and ability to navigate seemingly flawlessly in the dark. With their multiple eyes, many people wonder whether spiders can see in the dark or if they rely on other senses to survive and hunt in low-light conditions.

Despite being primarily nocturnal animals with as many as eight eyes, most spiders do not see particularly well in the dark. Their eyes are designed to detect motion when there is light, but they struggle to perceive objects in complete darkness. Instead, spiders depend on alternative senses to detect prey and obstacles in their environments. For example, they rely on their sensitive hairs to perceive vibrations and navigate their surroundings efficiently.

Among different spider species, there are variations in the abilities of their eyesight. Some, such as jumping spiders, possess advanced visual systems with direct and indirect eyes working together to track moving prey. Nonetheless, their exceptional eyesight is not designed for seeing in the dark. Understanding these nocturnal creatures’ limitations in vision and their reliance on other sensory adaptations sheds light on the incredible ways spiders thrive in their environments.

Can Spiders See in the Dark

Most spiders have relatively poor eyesight, and this doesn’t change much whether it’s dark or light. However, there are some species with excellent eyesight, even in the dark. For example, net-casting spiders have large eyes near the back of their heads, which function as built-in night goggles, making them highly effective nocturnal hunters1. Another example is wolf spiders, which hunt during the night and can see more clearly in the dark than during the day2.

Despite the fact that most spider species cannot use their eyes effectively in the dark, many have evolved other methods for gathering information about their surroundings. For instance, spiders rely on their senses of hearing, smell, and taste to find prey and detect threats2.

Nocturnal vs Daytime Spiders

Not all spiders are nocturnal, but many of them are active at night. Nocturnal spiders typically carry out activities like building webs and catching prey in darkness4. They may have poorer eyesight compared to diurnal (daytime-active) spiders; however, they have evolved to rely on other senses and adaptations to survive.

On the other hand, diurnal spiders are more active during the day and may have better eyesight to detect prey and threats during daylight. They might rely less on other senses like hearing and smell, focusing more on visual cues.

In summary, while most spiders cannot see well in the dark, some species have evolved the ability to do so effectively. Nocturnal and daytime spiders vary in their reliance on eyesight, with nocturnal spiders compensating for their diminished vision by relying on other senses.

Spider Eyes and Vision Capabilities

Types of Spider Eyes

There are various types of spider eyes, which differ based on their species. Some spiders have excellent eyesight, while others rely more on their other senses to navigate and detect prey. For example, jumping spiders have excellent vision and use it to hunt and navigate, while net-casting spiders have two large eyes that function as built-in night goggles, allowing them to see in the dark better than other spider species. On the other hand, some spiders, like the wolf spider, can see more clearly in the dark while hunting nocturnally. However, it is essential to note that not all spiders have good night vision capabilities, and they primarily rely on other senses.

Number of Eyes

Spiders typically have eight eyes, but their arrangement, size, and visual capabilities may vary. The positioning of these eyes is different in each spider species, and their vision depends on these unique adaptations. Some spiders may have larger eyes that provide them better vision to detect prey, while others might possess smaller eyes that offer less visual clarity. The number of eyes a spider has does not necessarily correlate with their ability to see in the dark3.

Despite having eight eyes, many spiders do not rely on vision as their primary means of detecting their surroundings. Instead, they utilize other senses like touch, taste, and smell, as well as their sensitivity to vibrations2. These additional senses allow them to navigate and hunt effectively, whether they have good eyesight or not.

In conclusion, while some spider species possess excellent night vision, many rely on their other senses to help them navigate and hunt effectively in the dark. The number and type of eyes they have largely do not determine their ability to see in the dark.

Night Vision Adaptations


The tapetum is a reflective layer found in the eyes of some nocturnal animals, including certain spider species. This layer reflects light back through the retina, increasing the amount of light available for the photoreceptor cells and enhancing the spider’s ability to see in low-light conditions. The tapetum enables these spiders to detect prey and navigate their environment more effectively at night.

Sinopoda Scurion

The Sinopoda scurion is a unique species of huntsman spider that lives in complete darkness in caves2. This spider has evolved exceptionally large, highly sensitive eyes that allow it to see in near-total darkness. Although the Sinopoda scurion does not possess a tapetum, it has remarkable night vision capabilities compared to other spiders, thanks to its adaptations to cave life.

Specialized Eyes in Lycosidae and Salticidae Families

Some spider species in the Lycosidae (wolf spiders) and Salticidae (jumping spiders) families showcase exceptional night vision capabilities3. These spiders have specialized eyes that are adapted to function well in low light conditions.

For example, wolf spiders (Lycosidae) often display prominent posterior median eyes, which enable them to hunt nocturnally and see more clearly in the dark4. Jumping spiders in the Salticidae family, despite their small size, have extraordinary eyesight due to their large, forward-facing anterior median eyes, which can even detect UV light5.

In summary, while not all spiders possess exceptional night vision, certain species have evolved unique adaptations that enable them to see and thrive in low-light environments. These adaptations include the presence of a tapetum, cave-dwelling species with large, sensitive eyes, and specialized eyes in the Lycosidae and Salticidae spider families.


  1. Night Vision: How Animals See in the Dark | The Outside Story 

Can Spiders See Color

While a spider’s primary eyes have limited color vision, most spiders can’t see color with their secondary eyes. It can be difficult for a spider to distinguish between certain colors, but that doesn’t mean it sees the world in black and white. Researchers have found that spiders are more likely to respond to color videos than footage in grayscale.

For example, jumping spiders have been observed to possess impressive color vision. Members of the jumping spider family can see in three colors. This ability helps them identify and track their prey better in their environment.

On the other hand, many insects and spiders can see a type of light called ultraviolet (UV) that most humans cannot see (source). This UV vision allows them to perceive the world differently and pick up on details that would be invisible to our eyes. Such vision capabilities can be especially useful for nocturnal spiders that hunt or build webs during the night.

In summary, spiders have a unique and varied range of color vision capabilities depending on their species, which helps them successfully navigate and survive in their environments.

Types of spider Species and their Eyesight

Wolf Spiders

Wolf spiders, members of the Lycosidae family, possess excellent nocturnal vision. They primarily rely on their eyesight to catch prey, being able to discern even the slightest of movements by small insects. Their enlarged posterior median eyes enable them to see more clearly in the dark, and they use their long legs to pounce on top of their victims [<a href=””>source</a>].

Jumping Spiders

Jumping spiders, belonging to the Salticidae family, are known for their advanced visual abilities. Their main pair of eyes allows trichromatic, or “true” color, vision, providing them with high-definition sight. This remarkable vision assists jumping spiders in hunting [<a href=””>source</a>]. Some notable jumping spider species include:

  • Habronattus sunglow: This species possesses a vibrant appearance and impressive vision that helps it distinguish colors effectively.
  • Portia: Known for its intelligence, this species relies on complex strategies to stalk and capture its prey, primarily utilizing its remarkable eyesight.

Net-Casting Spiders

Net-casting spiders are unique in that they possess two large eyes near the back of their head. These eyes function as built-in night goggles, allowing them to see well in the dark. They use this exceptional vision to create and cast silken nets over their prey, capturing them efficiently [<a href=””>source</a>].

Thomisidae Family

The Thomisidae family, commonly known as flower spiders, are ambush predators with exceptional vision. Their keen eyesight is crucial when hunting, as they must detect and capture their prey – often insects – without actively pursuing them. Flower spiders typically await their quarry on flowers, branches, or leaves, blending in seamlessly with their surroundings [<a href=””>source</a>].

Color Perception in Spiders

Spiders possess varying degrees of color vision, and this ability is primarily dependent on their species. For instance, jumping spiders are known to have better color vision than other types of spiders. Their primary eyes can detect green, red, orange, and yellow colors, thanks to filters inside their retinas, which allow them to have true trichromatic vision, similar to humans.

However, the secondary eyes of spiders do not typically offer color vision. They can perceive light and motion, but have difficulty distinguishing between specific colors. Despite this limitation, spiders do not see the world in black and white, as researchers have observed that they are more likely to respond to color videos than grayscale footage.

While many spiders are nocturnal and conduct their daily activities at night, most of them do not have good eyesight in the dark. Their ability to perceive the visible spectrum is limited, and they rely on other sensory cues, like vibrations and touch, to detect their surroundings and locate prey.

In summary, spiders’ color vision varies according to their species and the specific eyes being considered (primary vs. secondary). Jumping spiders have true trichromatic vision, allowing them to perceive a range of colors, while most other spiders have limited color perception. Despite having poor night vision, spiders use other senses to navigate their environments and successfully hunt prey.

Challenges and Limitations in Spider Eyesight

Spiders are well-known for their eight eyes; however, their eyesight capabilities are not the same for all species. The primary challenge in spider eyesight is that most spiders cannot see in the dark, despite many of them being nocturnal creatures.

In a spider’s eye configuration, there are larger primary eyes and smaller secondary eyes. The primary eyes are responsible for forming images, while the secondary eyes help track movement and distance. The secondary eyes can be further categorized into lateral and median eyes. The median eyes play a crucial role in tracking motion, especially for species like jumping spiders.

During daytime, spiders face limitations in their vision due to the dependency on light for detecting motion. Their primary eyes can only see limited colors, and most spiders cannot see colors with their secondary eyes [<a href=””>source</a>]. Consequently, spiders rely more on their prey’s movements rather than trying to spot them visually.

Spider species referred to as “wandering spiders” are particularly affected by these limitations, as they actively search for prey during the day, relying on their ability to detect motion.

Since spiders cannot always rely on their eyesight to find food, they have evolved other ways to detect prey. For instance, many spiders have tiny hairs called setae on their legs, which can detect taste stimuli and help spiders recognize potential prey [<a href=””>source</a>].

In summary, spiders face several limitations and challenges in their eyesight, particularly their inability to see well in the dark, limited color vision, and reliance on movement detection. To overcome these limitations, they utilize other senses, such as taste stimuli detection, to locate prey and adapt to their environment.

Do Spiders Like Light or Dark?

Spiders are fascinating creatures with unique abilities and characteristics. One of the most common questions about these arachnids is whether they prefer light or dark environments. To answer this question, let’s explore their vision capabilities and daily habits.

Most spiders are nocturnal, which means they are active during the night and rest during the day. Despite being predominantly nocturnal and equipped with eight eyes, spiders generally do not have great vision in the dark. They use their eyes to detect movement when there is light, but in darkness, they rely on other senses such as hearing, smell, and taste to find prey and detect threats.

There are some exceptions among spider species when it comes to eyesight. For example, wolf spiders (Lycosidae) hunt in dimmer light conditions such as dusk and moonlight, and their large posterior eyes have well-developed tapeta that help them spot prey movement in low light [2].

In addition to their vision and sensory abilities, spiders’ preferences for light or dark can also be influenced by their hunting strategies and habits:

  • Web-building spiders, like orb-weavers, often build their webs at night and then wait for prey to become trapped. These spiders find it beneficial to operate in darker environments to avoid being detected by predators and to increase their chances of catching prey.
  • Ground-dwelling spiders, such as the aforementioned wolf spiders, prefer hunting in lower light conditions to maintain their camouflage and silently approach their prey.

In conclusion, while spiders do not possess great night vision capabilities, their preference for darker environments stem from their nocturnal habits, hunting strategies, and reliance on other senses to navigate and find prey.

Key Takeaways

Most species of spiders have limited eyesight, regardless of whether it’s a bright or dark environment. While some spiders possess excellent vision, the majority of them have to rely on alternative senses such as hearing, smell, and taste to hunt and avoid threats.

Not all spiders can effectively use their eyes in the darkness. In general, their eyesight is relatively weak even in well-lit environments. Due to these vision limitations, spiders have evolved to gather information about their surroundings through other methods.

A significant number of spiders are nocturnal, carrying out activities such as web-spinning and prey-catching during the night. Despite being active during the nighttime, most spiders still struggle to see well in the dark.

When it comes to spider eyes, there are two distinct types:

  • Primary eyes: These larger eyes form images.
  • Secondary eyes: These smaller eyes help spiders track movement and gauge distances (source).

About 99% of spiders have eight eyes, while others have fewer or even none at all. The number of eyes depends on the species. However, it’s important to remember that having multiple eyes doesn’t necessarily equate to excellent vision, as detailed above.

In conclusion, while spiders’ eyesight generally isn’t strong enough for them to see well in the dark, they rely on other senses and adaptations to navigate their environments and capture prey. Vision in spiders varies greatly between species, with some having a more refined ability to detect movement and analyze their surroundings.

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