Monday, 7 May 2018

Brown widow male spiders prefer sex with older females likely to eat them afterwards

Male brown widow spiders seek to mate with older, less-fertile females that are 50 percent more likely to eat them after sex, according to Israeli researchers in a study published in the journal Animal Behaviour.

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and The Volcani Center in Israel collected male and female brown widow spiders from central and southern Israel and then positioned the females to give the males the choice of which to approach - immature (sub-adult) or mature (old) females - while they observed the interactions. Immature females are able to mate, store sperm and produce eggs after the final molt to adult stage.

"We originally thought the males would prefer the sub-adult females, as they are more fertile and far less likely to cannibalize them, but we were surprised to discover that was not the case," the researchers said.

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