Myth: You can always tell a spider because it has eight legs.

You are watching: Why do spiders have 8 legs

Fact: Not exactly. Scorpions, harvestmen, ticks, and in fact all arachnids—not just spiders—have four pairs of legs (see illustrations). Insects have three pairs. Also, notice that I said "four pairs" instead of "eight." The number of leg pairs (one pair per leg-bearing segment) is more significant than individual legs, which can be lost.

Spider Myths

"Everything that "everybody knows" about spiders is wrong!" —Rod Crawford sets the record straight with Spider Myths.


A spider, Missulena occatoria (Australia).


A whipscorpion, Abaliella dicranotarsalis.


A scorpion, Charmus indicus (India).


A pseudoscorpion, Chelifer tuberculatus (Algeria).


A harvestman, Phalangium opilio (worldwide).

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Land Acknowledgement: The Burke Museum stands on the lands of the Coast Salish Peoples, whose ancestors resided here since time immemorial. Many Indigenous peoples thrive in this place—alive and strong.

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