All rights reserved. Spiders have some pretty strange mating habits, from sexual cannibalism to self-sacrifice. The study, published recently in Biology Letters , builds on a research that revealed the same behavior in a different kind of orb-weaving spider, Larinia jeskovi. Sexual competition strategies—the contest to fertilize females and secure paternity—are common in spiders. Watch as the male nursery web spider attempts to avoid being eaten by tying up the female's legs prior to copulation. Also see " 7 Bug and Spider Myths Squashed.
Several clades of spiders whose females evolved giant sizes are known for extreme sexual behaviors such as sexual cannibalism, opportunistic mating, mate-binding, genital mutilation, plugging, and emasculation. However, these behaviors have only been tested in a handful of size dimorphic spiders. Our field and laboratory study uncovers a rich sexual repertoire that predictably involves cannibalism, genital mutilation, male preference for teneral females, and emasculation. Surprisingly, C. While its adaptive significance is elusive, oral sexual contact in spiders may signal male quality or reduce sperm competition. Sexual selection shapes numerous animal traits, notably their morphology, physiology, and behaviors. Since sex specific phenotypes likely result from differing selection regimes in each sex, studying the biology of extremely sexually dimorphic clades may be particularly revealing in this context 1.
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Mounting evidence in recent years shows just how crazy spider sex really is
The male spider's primary objective in life is to impregnate one or more female spiders before other males can. As it turns out, this is no easy task in most species. The first obstacle is actually finding a female spider. Most spider species are completely solitary animals, meaning they live and feed on their own, and they are generally spread out over a wide area, making an available female relatively scarce. The male spider has the daunting task of tracking down a sexually mature, receptive female in the area before other males can get there. In most species, the female makes it easier on the males by "advertising" herself with pheromones , communicative chemicals. Many female ground spiders will secrete a pheromone on their dragline , the silk thread they leave trailing behind them. When males of the same species come across the dragline, they smell the pheromone with the chemical sensors on their front legs and follow the dragline to the female. Web-spinning females may release pheromones directly into the air or coat their webs with pheromones, to make a natural "chemical antenna.
And you thought humans had crazy sex lives? Mounting evidence in recent years shows just how crazy spider sex is. For example, in the case of redback spiders Latrodectus hasselti , courtship tends to last an average of 50 minutes when males are competing head-to-head for mating rights and 4.