Love Sucks, Bites, Claws and Decapitates

Black Widow Spider, Photo Credit:
Flowers, sweets, bling and dressing up may woo some sweethearts, but a certain group of animals are preying for love this Valentine’s Day.

You Look Good Enough to Eat

For males, the red hour glass marking on black widow spiders should be an indicator that their time is up. Ordinary gifts won’t do for the females of this species; these venomous femme fatales require the ultimate sacrifice. Black widows are notorious mate eaters, and they’re hardly alone. Female praying mantises, scorpions, midges and other spiders are also known to decapitate and gobble up their significant others.

Love Hurts

Scientists have several theories about the motivation of mate eaters and their victims. Experts speculate that self-sacrifice may increase reproductive success for males by providing extra nutrition to the mother of their offspring. Other researchers suggest mate munching is just a case of mistaken identity. Also, killing members of the opposite sex may be a way of eliminating competition for food.

Chinese Praying Mantis on the sidewalk at NWF headquarters, Photo Credit: MABlevins
Males of some species are also a primary food source for females like the Chinese praying mantis.

Some males in the mate-eating world, however, are quick enough and lucky enough to escape. However, ladies in the animal kingdom aren’t the only ones who take love bites too far. Male paddle crabs can flip the script and devour their mates, too.

A dozen roses doesn’t seem like too much to ask, especially in comparison to what some six and eight-legged females require. Sacrificing a little time this Valentine’s Day is much better than sacrificing your life.

Jumping Spider
Male jumping spiders put on a show to attract a potential mate. If the female isn’t impressed, she might just eat him.

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