Female vs. male spiders: Who eats who?

There are few animals that people cringe at more than black widows. The name itself instills fear in many. The spider is known for its deadly bite and cannibalistic nature when mating – the female almost always eats the male after he fertilizes her eggs.

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A new study reverses the common assumption that all female spiders eat male spiders, as is the case of the black widow. Photo from Springer’s journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 

These spiders usually stick out in people’s minds, but a new study proves that males eat females in many other spider species, according to Environmental News Network.

This study, conducted by Lenka Sentenska and Stano Pekar from Masaryk University in the Czech Republic, shows that the cannibals took place soon after the first interaction (and before mating) between male and female spiders.

The study showed that most spiders are more cannibalistic in July because that is when they are the largest. The aggressive habitats of the spiders may be related to the size.

In the study, the large males preyed on the older females from the previous year. The size of the females did not matter; the age was the trigger.

The study was published in Springer’s Journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

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