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Spider Sex

April 8, 2008

Some spiders will play dead for sex.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host)
Why spiders play possum. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Male nursery web spiders have a unique courtship behavior, according to behavioral ecologist Trine Bilde of the University of Aarhus in Denmark.

TRINE BILDE (University of Aarhus):
The male collects prey, which it wraps in white silk and it presents the prey to the female and this is what we call a nuptual gift. The female actually requires this nuptual gift in order to accept this male for a mating.

HIRSHON:
And to make sure the female spider pays attention to the gift and not to him, the mal discretely pretends to be dead.

TRINE BILDE:
Playing dead makes the female sort of focus on the food gift and once she’s occupied with consuming the gift she’s more likely to then accept the copulation.

HIRSHON:
I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.