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Male spiders escape in the blink of an eye after mating

ChinaTo avoid predation, male orb weaver spiders fly away at up to 82 cm per second after pairing with a female.

Male spiders escape in the blink of an eye after mating

With the orb weaver spider (Philoponella prominens) male, the quick escape after mating is a matter of life and death. Their strange escape strategy is described in research published in the journal Current Biology April 25th.

Accordingly, male spiders use the first pair of legs to jump off the mate to ensure safety immediately after mating. The urgency is reflected in the extraordinary speed they reach, estimated at 82 centimeters per second.

Males are able to run so fast thanks to the tibial joint – the bone of the foot flexes and presses against the female. When the pairing is complete, the limbs are released. The hydraulic pressure causes them to expand at high speed, propelling the male through the air.

Capturing this behavior was a big challenge for the team because it was difficult for the instruments to keep up with launch rates. “We found that the mating process always ends with a zoom so fast that conventional cameras can’t capture the details clearly,” said Shichang Zhang of Hubei University in China, author of the study. lead author of the study, said.

The team first encountered this behavior while studying sexual selection in orb weaver spiders, which live in groups of up to 300 members. They then set up a camera to take a closer look and find out what happens when the male spider’s launch is prevented by using a paintbrush.

All male spiders that escaped after pairing survived, namely 152 out of 155 successfully paired. 3 that did not run away were killed. Another 30 animals that were prevented from escaping after mating also lost their lives. According to the team, that proves this behavior is a way to avoid being eaten by a partner.

“The most amazing result was that the male spider evaded the female cannibals with extraordinary kinetic efficiency. The initial launch speed can reach 82 centimeters per second while the male’s body length is only about approx. 3mm. Imagine a 1.8m tall man can dash 530m in one second. That’s what male spiders do,” Shichang Zhang said.

Flying away at that speed seemed like a dangerous escape plan, but the male spider had another trick up its sleeve. “The male pulls the silk from his silk-spinning organ when he walks on the female’s web. They are ‘anchored’ to this web. So when the female attacks, they will drop themselves and hang from the web. silk thread,” explained Zhang.

“It’s a seat belt. After launching, the male will be held by the seat belt so he doesn’t fall to the ground. They will then climb back to the female’s net to mate again, or maybe to the network of other people. other females in search of mating opportunities,” added Zhang.

The team of experts plan to continue to find out if there is a link between the male’s ability to launch and fertility.

Thu Thao (According to IFL Science)

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