Bug Blog

Spiders Can Give Potential Mates Backrubs

Life is not that great for male spiders. The vast majority of spider species have females that are much larger than males. In order to avoid being eaten, many different spider-types have resorted to many different methods to avoid becoming a meal. Black widow males, for example, can use the scent of female pheromones to determine how hungry a particular female happens to be. If a male can tell that a female has not had a meal in a while, then naturally that male will avoid mating with that female. Male redback spiders even allow themselves to be eaten slowly so that they can finish fertilizing the female eggs. Male golden orb-weaver spiders are no exception to this trend in nature. In fact, the male orb-weavers are ten times smaller than their female counterparts, so they really have to lay on the charm in order to avoid being eaten. Researchers now know that male orb-weavers resort to massages in order to prevent their deaths.

Male orb-weavers have to mate with females multiple times in order to ensure that the female will have its babies. After a few mating sessions, the male orb-weavers genitalia will become detached. This detached male genitalia then serves as a plug to prevent the female from being fertilized by other male spiders. The only problem with this process is that the risk of being eaten is very high since the males have to spend a considerable amount of time mating with the females.

The male orb-weavers are particularly vulnerable during the time in between mating sessions. So during this time, the males resort to messaging the females. The males will spread their silk over the dorsum of the females; this will make females less apt to eat their male mates. Researchers used to believe that the male spider silk contained pheromones that calmed the females down. However, recent studies have revealed that this is not the case, and instead the females simply respond positively to the male orb-weavers touch.

Have you ever witnessed two spiders mating? If you have, then what type of spiders were they?