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Regina Bailey

Sexual Cannibalism

By September 13, 2008

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Wolf Spider
Sexual cannibalism is a phenomenon that is seen widely among several species of spiders. What is sexual cannibalism? It is an act of cannibalism that occurs when a female of a particular species eats a male of the same species either before, during, or after mating. Why do female spiders exhibit this type of behavior? The answer appears to be a simple one.

Researchers from Miami University in Ohio have discovered that the size of the male spider in relation to the female determines if the male is more likely to be eaten by the female. Studies have shown that in one species of wolf spider, Hogna helluo, small males have an 80 percent chance of being eaten by the female while attempting to mate. Large males, on the other hand, have no risk of being eaten.

What drives the female spiders to consume their male partners? The answer appears to be hunger. The much larger female spider is not likely to turn down an easy meal when presented with an opportunity.

Learn more about this study, see:


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