Sexual cannibalism

Article

August 20, 2022

Sexual cannibalism is a feature of the sexual behavior of some insects (mantises, some types of flies and mosquitoes) and many spiders, which consists in the fact that the female eats her partner during or after mating. One meaning of such behavior is obvious: the female accumulates strength to raise offspring, in which the deceased male is also interested. Some researchers see this as the selection of the best males for the production of offspring. Females of all species that are characterized by sexual cannibalism are much larger than males (see sexual dimorphism). A common theory is that they simply do not isolate males from the many animals that serve them as prey (that is, they eat them as if “by mistake”). For the male, the benefit is less obvious, since the specificity of the male sex is the ability to fertilize several females. Quite a lot of evidence has accumulated that males try to minimize the risk of being eaten. For example, males of some species of spiders slip insects killed by them to females, using the time for mating when the female is distracted by eating the “substitute”. The situation is complicated by the fact that the male can be eaten before he fertilizes the female, and accordingly serve as a resource for someone else's offspring. Palming a “substitute” prey on the female often does not save the male from death, but allows him to have sexual intercourse. There are strategies that allow the male to posthumously ensure the success of the fertilization of the female with his sperm. So, ball spiders, dying, leave the genital organ in the body of the female, excluding the possibility of her subsequent mating with another male. Another group of strategies are strategies that involve avoiding death - in general or for as long as possible (within the framework of sexual intercourse). In addition to the use of “substitute” prey, this is also the preference of well-fed females for hungry ones, an imperceptible and unexpected approach. In male red-backed spiders, a constriction forms on the body (it sort of “pulls in the stomach”) when it prepares for mating. As scientists suggest, this allows you to delay the moment of damage to vital organs by the female. Others donate a sexual organ, avoiding death (genital organs in arthropods are paired). Woz�