In many spider species the female has been observed to eat the male after mating. Scientist Maydianne Andrade tells a bizarre story of male Redback Spiders deliberately somersaulting themselves into the hairy jaws of the spindly legged, bulbous bodied females.
Why would our tiny male, a close relative of the black widow spider, deliberately allow the female to eat him?
Maydianne explains how he doesn’t eat after reaching maturity and so will only live for a few months. Therefore, he normally only mates once in his lifetime and so will do anything in his power to be the father of her offspring.
By providing the female with a hearty, spider shaped meal, the female is far less likely to mate again. Moreover, whilst being eaten alive, his sperm has double the time to fertilize her eggs.
Counterintuitive behavior has been seen before, such as the giving of gifts, but could there be a more bizarre story than redback spiders acrobatically somersaulting themselves to their own death?