Matriphagy is the consumption of the mother by her offspring. The behavior generally takes place within the first few weeks of life and has been documented in some species of insects, nematode worms, scorpions, and other arachnids.
In the case of female velvet spiders (Stegodyphus lineatus) the mother's tissues begin degrading before her young have hatched with the tissue showing light signs of degradation immediately after the egg sac is laid. The mother is able to regurgitate portions of her liquefied gut to feed her growing young. Around 9 days after hatching the juveniles begin to consume their still living mother and then vacate the nest. Within a year the process will begin again with the new set of females.
Spiders generally do quite well in cases of matriphagy, with higher weights, advancement of their moulting time, larger body mass at dispersal, and higher survival rates than clutches deprived of matriphagy. According to a study of the spider species, Amaurobius ferox, matriphagous offspring were also more successful at capturing large prey items, had a more extended social period, and a higher survival rate at dispersal.
List of species that engage in matriphagy
- Stegodyphus sarasinorum
- Agelena labyrinthica
- Amaurobius ferox
- Stegodyphus lineatus
- "For Some Animals, Baby's First Meal is Its Mother". Mental Floss. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
- "Zoologger: The baby spiders that munch up their mum". New Scientist. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
- "Watch Baby Spiders Eat Their Mothers Alive". 2017-09-20. Retrieved 2018-03-22.
- Engelhaupt, Erika (2014-02-06). "Some animals eat their moms, and other cannibalism facts". Science News. Retrieved 2018-03-22.
- Nuwer, Rachel. "Mother, May I … Eat You?". Scientific American. 313 (4): 19–19. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1015-19.
- Kim, Kil Won; Roland, Chantal; Horel, André (25 December 2001). "Functional Value of Matriphagy in the Spider Amaurobius ferox". Wiley Online Library. 106.
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