Spiders Have Threesomes To Avoid Cannibalistic Females

With all those pointy legs and fangs to consider, youd think the act of sex between spiders might be a cautious, prudent, and rather vanilla affair. However, it turns out arachnids have kinkier sex lives than a cheap motel in Las Vegas on a Friday night, complete with cannibalism, penis swordbattles, multiple partners, anddouble penetration.

An upcoming study in theJournal of Arachnology has studied the sexual behavior of the wolf spider (Rabidosa punctulata) and revealed they take part in threesomes, judiciously to avoid cannibalism.

In a typical sexual encounter between this species, it ends with the larger female trying to eat the male in the hopes of getting much-needed nutrients to produce eggs. Scientists have previously noted a few tricks that males have developed to avoid this fate. For one, theymight perform intense courtship displays to persuade the female, or wait until she has just molted and therefore only equipped with soft fangs

Biologists from Susquehanna University have recently noted that some weak or more timid male spiders have been documented using a much sneakier strategy. They approach a mating pair of spiders, climb on top, and join in. They’re unsure how common this behavior is, however they note that it’s been observed multiple times in the wild and in the lab.

Things get even more weird. Female spiders have paired reproductive organs that allows simultaneous penetration by two different males. Sometimes the males will also battle and spar with each other using their reproductive organs.

“This simultaneous mating strategy has several advantages. It allows males to parasitize the courtship displays of more attractive males, avoid the possibility of getting cannibalized, since the female is already occupied, and makes courtship unnecessary, Matt Persons, lead author and professor of biology at Susquehanna University, explained in an emailed statement.

It also minimizes getting in a fight with the other male or suffering female aggression with attempts at coercive matings.”

The researchers have little doubt these threesomes developed for evolutionary benefitsand not for pleasure. Needless to say, however, that if it is between consenting spiders of consenting spider age, then more power to them.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/spiders-have-threesomes-to-avoid-cannibalistic-females/