Fisheries Program
Northeast Region

Horseshoe crab and red knot. Credit: Greg Breese/USFWS
Horseshoe crab and red knot. Credit: Greg Breese/USFWSHorseshoe crab.
Horseshoe crab. Credit: USFWS

Horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus)

Life History

Horseshoe crabs lay their eggs on beaches from late spring to early summer. The horseshoe crabs arrive on the beach in thousands when the tides are high and the moon is new. A female horseshoe crab buries herself into the sand where she lays nearly 4,000 eggs. She may repeat the process laying over 100,000 eggs in total. Eggs hatch within a month, after which the larvae will enter the water at high tide.


Maine to Mexico

Fun Facts

  • Horseshoe crabs’ physical appearance is prehistoric, much like it was 350 million years ago.
  • Horseshoe crabs are more closely related to spiders and scorpions than crabs.

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Last updated: December 16, 2011
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