MATING GAMES

Male Spiders Trick Females into Sex

Who knew men and male spiders used similar tactics when trying to ensnare ladies? Male nursery web spiders offer their potential female mates gifts in exchange for sex, but a new study finds that the gifts including bits of flower, cotton or ant husks wrapped in silk—often aren't enough to win the girls over. Their only purpose is to distract the females so that the males can have their way with them. When that trick doesn't distract her for long enough to get the job done, the males play dead until the female thinks she's home free, at which point he grabs her for another round. This behavior is unique to the species and allows them to "continue mating and increase the chances to transfer more sperm," according to the study researcher. "Females mating with worthless gifts ran away without the gift and there were no chances for the male ... to prolong sperm transfer."