Dear Agony Ant,
My partner and I are happily settled and contemplating having some little spiderlings of our own. Unfortunately the inevitability of this is my own untimely demise; soon after birth, my very own gastric juices begin to eat away at my organs and my young eventually eat me alive. My partner says he’s ready to make the sacrifice for the sake of our legacy. Of course he does! Surely, it is too high a price to pay? Yes I realise this is how it has been done for millions of years, but we are now in the 21st Century and can no longer turn blind eyes to a 100% maternal mortality rate! I’m convinced if males gave birth, we’d have a solution by now!
Scared and facing impending death,
Desert spider, Stegodyphus lineatus
Dear scared and facing impending death,
You’ve definitely drawn a short straw in the lottery of life. If you were one of the species of spider where the females cannibalised the males following mating, I wonder if your partner would still be keen to sacrifice himself for the sake of ‘legacy’. That being said, I come from a species where children are reliant on you for food, shelter and support for upwards of 30 years or more, which really is a very long time to not be able to relax on the toilet with a magazine.
Don’t feel pressured to have your own spiderlings, it’s a very personal choice. However if you do decide to go down that path, I suggest you have a last hurrah with your friends and family and be comforted by the fact that after your prolonged and painfully ironic death, you will at least be relaxed.