Male spiders prefer virginity to size

Sunday, October 31, 2010

WASHINGTON - A new study has revealed that male spiders that get to have sex only once or twice in their lives are far more interested in a female spider’s virginity than in her size.

Most male wasp spiders have only a single shot at love because their female partners eat them right after copulation.

Even those (doubly) lucky guys that escape this sexual cannibalism, however, can mate only one more time before their skirt-chasing days are over.

The study’s findings have illustrated an unusual battle of the sexes in the animal kingdom.

“Usually the general wisdom is that the male sex has a large number of sperm cells, so the male is rather unlimited [in fertilizing] as many females as he can find,” Live Science quoted Jutta Schneider, a co-author of the study, as saying.

“At the second of genital contact - it’s very easy to observe - the female suddenly bends, and it looks like he stabs her.

“Then he has only seconds to complete his mission before she starts to take silk out of her spinnerets” in order to ensnare him,” said Schneider.

For the experiment, researchers placed two females - one heftier than the other - before roving male spiders in the laboratory and in nature.

Regardless of how voluptuous they were, most female spiders received a randy male visitor or two.

But contrary to the researchers’ expectations, virgins emerged as the clear favourite.

Among 21 pairs of females wherein one female went from virgin to non-virgin, the virgins attracted and mated with 12 male spiders. Only one male opted to have sex with an experienced partner.

In another recent study in Biology Letters, Schneider and colleagues suggested that male spiders can detect if a potential paramour is actually one of their sisters who, like them, never wandered too far from the shrub of their birth.

The study was published in Animal Behaviour. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

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