“The insect world may have found its ‘Mom of the Year’ in the female Stegodyphus lineatus,” reports Walt Bonner for Fox News. “It’s a desert spider that feeds herself to her young shortly after they’re hatched”—a practice which is known as matriphagy:
Found in the semi-arid regions of Israel and other parts of the Mediterranean basin as well as throughout the Near East and Asia Minor, the female Stegodyphus spins her webs in shrubbery. … Inside the web, she creates a silk disc that contains 70 to 80 eggs, while her intestine tissues begin to dissolve. When the “spiderlings” hatch, she pierces the silk disc, allowing the babies to emerge. …
“At this time a liquid has already accumulated in her gut, allowing her to start regurgitating to her young,” said Mor Salomon of the Israel Cohen Institute for Biological Control. “While she regurgitates, the process in her intestine intensifies and the liquid formed probably travels back through her intestinal tube to her mouth where she secretes it for her young.”
The babies crawl all over her head, trying to get at the liquid that is leaking from her face. She makes no attempt to escape as her young eventually pierce her soft abdomen with their mouths before feasting on the liquefied guts inside. This process takes a few hours, at the end of which their mom (otherwise known as “dinner”) is officially dead.
In the end, the mother has given all but 4 percent of her body mass to her young, who leave her heart alone. Thanks, kids!
“Stegodyphus is not the only spider genus showing matriphagy,” Salomon added. “All species in the family Eresidae (to which Stegodyphus belong) show matriphagy and there are other spider families in which it is also involved.”
To see a picture of this morbid mommy, click the link to source above. The report by Salomon and her colleagues can be found in the April Journal of Arachnology.
In the bug realm, this practice of matriphagy may be all well and good, but in the human realm, not so much. Here, when children eat their mothers alive, we have a different name for it—it’s call co-dependency—and it can be just as messy. This is what happens when a mother loses herself in her children. allowing them to consume her very being (not to mention all her earthly resources). Sometimes, mom needs to say, “I must leave something for me!”
"So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less?" 2 Corinthians 12:15).