Do Spiders Eat Other Spiders?

Today, we will be discussing the cannibalistic aspect of a spider’s life in great detail and answering the question ” Do Spiders Eat Other Spiders?” in great length/ Spiders are really fascinating and interesting creatures. You might hate them or they may disgust you but you cannot refuse to believe how impressive these little monsters are!

Spiders are the most widely inhabited anthropods which means they are not in anyway insects. Yes, you heard me right spiders are not insects. So why are you reading this blogpost under the name “Insect101” because spiders are commonly perceived as insects and leaving behind our favorite and coolest crawling creep would be such a loss!

Back to the main question today of the blog- “Do Spiders Eat Other Spiders?”. Yes, many of the species of spiders don’t really mind eating other spiders. Moreover, quite a few spiders have also been seen taking a bite on a fellow spider of the same species, so that is also not a distinguishing factor in this very aspect. Most commonly, the female spiders are seen killing and eating the male spiders mid or after copulation

A picture of a spider eating another spider to better answer "Do Spiders Eat Other Spiders?"

A fun fact to note at this point is that male spiders from most of the spider’ species are quite smaller than their female counterparts, this means that they aren’t able to usually defend themselves when the females turn to them for a snack after copulation

Female Spiders Eating Male Spiders

Like we discussed above, eating the male spider after copulations is quite common among spiders. Though the frequency of it might vary from one species to another it does happen to some extent in nearly every spider species. An example of a spider specie where females eating male spiders is rather quite common is Tidarren sisyphoides. In this species, the male is nearly 1% of the total size of the female which makes him no match for the female if and when she decides on having him as a snack. In many species of spiders like  Latrodectus hasselti the chances of the female eating their male counterpart is near or over 60%. Why do the females eat the males you ask? Well, the complete answer to this is yet unknown but it has been suggested that they do this for the nutritional value ( they are hungry ) and because they have the superior physical level that allows them to go through with it if they intend to

Fun Fact

In many spider species like Latrodectus hasselti, the chances of the female eating the male counterpart after copulation are over 60%

Do Spiders Eat Other Spiders Of The Same Species?

Yes, Spiders do not discrminate when it comes to cannibalism and are mostly comfortable with eating other fellow spiders regardless of whether they belong to the same specie or not. Though this is something that is not done or seen very commonly, many spiders have been seen indulging in the act of canniblaism

Why Do Spiders Usually Eat Other Spiders?

Well, this is done for the same reason most spiders eat other insects and other crawling creatures that is “For Nutrition“, yes most of the spiders that do eat other spiders do so just because they are hungry and need to feed themselves. In other circumstances, this is also done to defend oneself when attacked by another spider due to some reason. So there is no special reason or fetish for being cannibals that spiders have, its just plain old hunger and survival instinct playing its roll

Are Social Spiders Cannibals Too?

The act of cannibalism is rather less obvious in colonies but social spiders are also quite notorious for feeding on their dead fellow spiders but are less likely to attack each other out of hunger. Rather they are more often seen cooperating to catch bigger preys so everyone can feast to their heart’s content. Moreover, social spiders focus more on helping each other out and taking care f the younglings even if they are not theirs then killing off each other. If you want to know more about the social life of social spiders “here” is another one of our articles that you might find interesting

Baby Spiders Eating Their Mothers

Yes though not common in all species and mostly only seen in some colonies, it is common for baby spiders to eat their mothers, Sewlal , a researcher on this very subject says the following “While it may seem unthinkable for a child to cannibalize its mother, it’s important to understand matriphagy has evolved over many generations to be the most effective means of ensuring the survival of the species.”. But like we mentioned taking the overall population of the spider-verse this is not that common as many of the spiders do not live in colonies to start with and this has been seen in only a few spider colonies. One of the spider species where baby spiders have been seen eating their mothers is Stegodyphus lineatus.

If you want to read more about spiders who eat their mothers national geographic has a great article written on this very topic, you can give it a look “here

Male Spiders Eating Female Spiders

This is rather something that is not common at all in the spider’ world. And a few rare which have been seen have been concluded to be a result of Sexual dimorphism ( This is where the male and female counter-parts fo a species differ more than just from the sexual organs ). A few of the species where this has also been observed are  Allocosa brasiliensisEvarcha culicivora, and Argyronetia aquatica.

Hopefully, this article was helpful in answering a few of the questions that you might have had regarding cannibalism in spiders. If you have further related questions feel free to use the comment section below. And stay tuned to insect101 for more interesting articles

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