Very Few Arthropods Make For Good Parents
Most baby mammals are cared for by their mothers, and fathers will stick around in many cases as well. However, arthropods, like spiders, insects and crustaceans, are not known for being the best and most caring parents in the animal kingdom. Most arthropod parents will simply abandoned their offspring while still in egg form–not too cool. However, not all arthropods abandon their offspring, and the ones that stick around to raise their offspring are some of the most devoted parents in the animal kingdom. According to studies, the rare instances of parental care among arthropods are normally attributed to an evolved method of survival. Some arthropod species can better fend off predators with their offspring around, and some spider mothers will sacrifice themselves in order to increase the chances of their offspring’s survival.
One type of insect, aptly named the parent bug, will bravely stand over her offspring while fending off predators, not leaving any chance for her offspring to come into harm from predators. Some types of arthropods take parenting even more seriously, and are ready to risk life and limb to ensure the survival of their young. For example, many female spiders are brutal towards other animals that threaten her offspring. Many mother spiders will even allow their babies to eat them, which is something most mammalian mothers would not even consider in the most dire of circumstances. Mother spiders are not losing much by letting their offspring consume them because most mother spiders are only capable of producing one single brood. Also, by letting her kids eat her, mother spiders are making sure that her offspring will become large in size, and will be able to fend for themselves after the mother is consumed. This parenting tactic makes sense from an evolutionary perspective.
Of course, some spider mothers are stingier with their lives, and will not give it up for the well being of their children. Research has shown that these more stingy mothers produce offspring that do not survive as often as more altruistic mother spiders. So the next time you find a big spider in your home, just think about how dedicated the females are to the well being of their offspring, and perhaps you could learn to see spiders in a new way.
Do you know of any insect types that sacrifice themselves for their offspring? Do you think that spiders can experience feelings of selfishness?