Males give up solitary life to protect egg sacs, spiderlings — often as single parent
Marcelo O. Gonzaga
The first normally solitary spider to win Dad of the Year sets up housekeeping in a web above his offspring and often ends up as their sole defender and single parent.
Moms handle most parental care known in spiders, says Rafael Rios Moura at the Federal University of Uberlândia in Brazil. But either or both parents care for egg sacs and spiderlings in the small Manogea porracea species he and colleagues studied in a eucalyptus plantation. The dad builds a dome-shaped web above the mom’s web, and either parent will fight hungry invaders looking for baby-spider lunch. In webs with no parents, only about four spiderlings survived per egg sac. But with dad, mom or both on duty, survival more than doubled, the researchers report in the January 2017 Animal Behaviour.