Throughout the animal kingdom, most species have a mating ritual to seduce the partner and to procreate. Spiders are no exception. Some tap their toes, shake their legs and even whisper sweet nothings. But for wolf spiders, it’s a risky affair. In some species, the females will immediately eat the males almost half of the time they meet. But researchers from the universe of Cincinnati are revealing that the odds of male wolf spiders (Schizocosa ocreata) being eaten are actually slim, with only 10 percent of them being cannibalized.
Apparently, males can read chemical signatures left in a female’s silk and can determine if she has already devoured a male before. He will then alter his behavior depending on the outcome. George Uetz, one of the researchers said “They will either avoid those females completely — hide and try to be invisible — or else court furiously to overwhelm her senses.”
Uetz and his colleagues also discovered that these spiders croon to each other. This type of courting involves tapping their toes to a beat and dance violently, raising its legs and bouncing its fangs and body up and down. “The twerking spider” as the researchers appropriately name them uses these techniques to woo a female using vibrations to get the beset mating success.
Different species of wolf spider have mating dances that are unique to their own, so different that even two species are almost identical and can mate with each but choose not to as they don’t have the same moves. The researchers even built simulated spiders to test with the real ones to see how they react to it. They put the real spiders in front of an iPod playing video clip of a twerking spider while playing the vibrations.
But the researchers have much grander plans. They want to make a 3d screen and build a whole virtual world for the arachnids by attaching these spiders to a trackball and hope to trick the spiders into thinking they are actually running around in a virtual world. Sounds like a webby idea?