Scorpion Eyes: 7 Amazing Facts & Pictures You Should See

Scorpions are fascinating creatures that have stirred the imagination of humans for millennia. Their long, slender legs, fearsome pincers, and deadly stingers have all contributed to this arachnid’s scary image. Today, however, we’re going to take a look at a part of the scorpion’s anatomy that’s often overlooked: their eyes.

Most people know that scorpions do indeed have eyes, but they do not know all that much about them. It’s time to change that. To do so, we’re going to take a look at the top 7 facts about Scorpion eyes.


7 Facts about Scorpion Eyes

1. Scorpions have 6 to 12 eyes

There are almost 2000 scorpion species. Some of these species are kept as pets, such as the Dictator and Desert Hairy Scorpion. Not all of the 2000 species in existence have the same number of eyes. Some have 6, while others can have as many as 12 eyes.

They have 2 eyes on the top of the cephalothorax and 2 to 5 pairs of eyes along the front corners of the cephalothorax.

Here you can see where the eyes are located on the scorpion’s body

2. Despite their many eyes, do not have very good vision

You might think that with so many eyes, these arachnids see everything in ultra-high quality, but that’s not the case. In fact, their eyesight is among the worst in the animal kingdom as they are unable to use their many eyes to form sharp images.

They’re not completely blind, but their vision is definitely nothing to write home about. However, despite the fact that they cannot see images very clearly, they may be capable of seeing wavelengths that cannot be seen by most other animals.

3. Scorpion eyes are very sensitive to light

Jayendra Chiplunkar, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

While they might not have very good vision, the eyes of the scorpion are among the most light-sensitive of all the animals.

This is useful because these arachnids are nocturnal, which means that they spend the majority of their time in the dark. Thanks to their light-sensitive eyes, they’re capable of navigating in very dark environments using only the starlight to see where they are going.

This is very useful when sneaking up on prey because the prey will not see them coming due to the darkness, while the scorpion can see everything just fine!

This also means that when keeping scorpions in captivity it’s important that you do not expose them to light too much.

4. They shed the outer lining of their eyes

Like tarantulas, scorpions molt occasionally. They do this because their exoskeleton is hard, and can not grow with them. As a result, they have to shed the exoskeleton to make way for a bigger one if they want to keep growing.

When they molt, they shed their entire exoskeleton, even the lining of their eyes!

Luckily, the eyes do not get damaged by this. It’s a very natural process for them and something that all scorpions do. Without it, they wouldn’t be able to grow!

5. Some species have evolved to not have eyes at all

Totodu74, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

With almost 2,000 identified scorpion species it’s not very surprising that they have evolved a wide range of characteristics that are best suited to their environment.

While it’s true that most scorpions have between 6 and 12 eyes, some species, such as the Belisarius xambeui, have foregone having eyes altogether!

These species are rare and are found in caves and other dark places where they do not need eyes since it’s always dark. Having eyes is not beneficial to their survival, so they do not have them anymore.

6. Their entire exoskeleton might function as a massive eye

Rosa Pineda, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This one is less of a fact and more of a hypothesis. If you’ve ever seen a scorpion under UV light, you’ll undoubtedly have noticed that they glow brilliantly when exposed to Ultraviolet light, this is called fluorescence.

For the longest time, scientists were unsure why this happened. However, recently they came to the discovery that if you put them under UV light, they will scurry away until they find cover. What’s even more remarkable, is that they tried the same experiment while blindfolding the scorpions, and they move just as erratically as their non-blindfolded counterparts.

What this suggests is that scorpions can use their exoskeleton as a big eye to “see” ultraviolet light.

Of course, more research still has to be done, but it’s an interesting theory!

7. Scorpions have simple eyes

A diagram of the Scorpion’s eye

Like all arachnids, and unlike us humans, scorpions have simple instead of compound or camera eyes. What this means is that each eye has a single lens to receive and process light and visual information. Because of this, they lack the ability that humans and some other animals possess to create clear images of the things we see.

However, the fact that they have simple eyes does not bother them much. They do not rely on sight nearly as much as we do to get around.

Instead, they rely heavily on something called trichobothria, which are small hairs that allow them to detect airborne vibrations and currents.


Final words

Scorpions may have 6 to 12 eyes (or in rare cases 0), but they do not rely on these eyes much to get around. They have very poor vision, but luckily, they have many other senses that help them navigate the world.

Every animal is best suited to its natural environment. Since scorpions are nocturnal and do not rely on light much, it makes sense why they do not have very clear vision.

Much is still unknown about these animals. In fact, we still discover new scorpion species very frequently. It’ll be a long time until we know all their secrets, but for now, this is all we know about their eyes!

Jesse A.