Despite the fact they eat dangerous insects and pose almost no threat to humanity, I think the majority of people would agree that spiders are pretty frightening creatures.
Not to judge a book by its cover but this fear’s probably got something to do with the fact they look like literal nightmares, what with their horribly spindly eight legs, bulbous bodies and fanged maws.
The more you learn about spiders the more terrifying they become, for example, did you know that spiders eat the prey they catch by literally liquifying its insides and then drinking it?
Perhaps one of the more horrifying aspects of some spider’s lives is their habit of eating their mates before, after or even during copulation.
Yes, you read that right some types of spiders literally eat each other after sex, we’ll let that settle in for a bit.
If after reading that haunting fact, you’ve not immediately clicked off this article then congratulations you’ve earned a prize, a video of this strange cannibalistic mating ritual.
The video, which was filmed in North Carolina, USA, shows a female garden spider wrapping up her beloved in a web to eat after a romantic encounter.
Check it out here:
In the majority of cases of spider cannibalism, the female spider kills and eats a male spider because of something called sexual dimorphism.
This is a rather fancy way of saying that two sexes of the same species exhibit different characteristics, for example in humans males tend to be more muscular and taller than females.
In spiders, this is flipped with most males being a lot smaller than the females which makes them easy prey once the business of lovemaking is out of the way.
Although there is some dispute in the scientific community about how widespread cannibalisation is it does happen and scientists aren’t entirely sure why.
Depressingly the theory that makes the most sense is that after mating the male’s ‘evolutionary role’ is essentially over because it’s not like spider-dads hang about and help raise the kids.
So as the male’s unlikely to ever mate again, it’s far more useful as a source of nutrition for the pregnant mother and her eggs than wasting its efforts looking for another female spider to impregnate.
Apparently, in some cases, female spiders will eat males before they’ve even had the chance to get their end away.
It’s believed this non-sexual cannibalisation happens when a female never gets over her adolescent aggression, you see younger female spiders tend to be very aggressive, eating anything that enters their web.
This has the advantage of allowing the female in question to grow extremely large while it’s young, and while most spiders become more passive as they grow some retain this hostility and will eat any unfortunate male who thinks he has a chance with her.
Other times spiders will eat each other simply because they are starving which is somehow less horrifying than the whole eating each other after sex thing.
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