How jumpy male spiders avoid being eaten after sex

The Philoponella spider is found in tropical regions of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Australia, and lives in communal groups of up to 300 individuals in a web complex, constructed of many individual webs.

Although many animals have evolved various methods of storing elastic energy to escape or catch prey, it is the first time it has been shown for humans in dodging sexual cannabilism.

The males manage to catapult at such high speeds by folding their tibia-metatarsus joint against the female before releasing it, allowing for rapid expansion which flings the spider up and back.

The effect also causes the male to spin about 175 times per second, which also helps it to evade capture.

The team found that the catapulting males also shot out a safety line of silk, repeating the cycle of mating, bouncing off the female, then clambering back up for another attempt.

Speed ​​matters in a mate

The study suggests that the female spiders may even judge the male’s suitability as a mate based on his ability to pull off the move.

“If a male could not perform catapulting, then kill it. And if a male could perform it multiple times, then accept its sperm,” added Dr Zhang.

“We found that mating was always ended by catapulting, which is so fast that common cameras could not record the details clearly.”

The findings are published in the journal Current Biology.


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