Why Do Spiders Eat Their Mates?
Sexual cannibalism is a common phenomenon in many spider species. It is a practice whereby female spiders eat their male partners after mating.
Female spiders are voracious predators. They will eat anything they can get their teeth into. Males are more choosy and choose their mates based on their reproductive potential. This makes them an easy target for cannibalism.
Several studies have found that sexual cannibalism is often a result of competition for sperm. But not all species engage in cannibalism. Some females, like black widow spiders, offer themselves as living sacrifices to their mates.
Studies have also indicated that females who eat their males have better odds of producing children. Those who do so have larger offspring and live longer.
The female black widow spider’s name comes from its reputation for cannibalizing its male suitors. Scientists believe that this behavior is due to the fact that the spider is trying to keep reproductive options open. In addition, the black widow may be using the male as a protein source.
While most female spiders do not consume their males, there are some species that do. For instance, the female Australian redback spider will eat the male in about 60% of cases.
Researchers have analyzed data from a variety of different species of spiders to determine the cause of sexual cannibalism. Some have suggested that cannibalism is a form of sperm competition, while others have cited the belief that it is a form of size motivation.