MAR 06, 2017 10:58 AM PST

Study Reveals Why These Spiders Have Threesomes

Threesomes may be derived from nothing more than sexual pleasure for the human species, but for some other species on the planet, it may be required to increase the odds of survival.

According to a study that will soon be published in the Journal of Arachnology, some male spiders may be caught mating in groups of threes simply to avoid being eaten by the female.

A threesome involving wolf spiders, as captured during the study.

Image Credit: Matthew Persons

In these threesome-based mating encounters, one male will typically court a female and then another male will drop in and crash the party. The behavior, which was noticed first in Wolf Spiders by professor Matthew Persons of Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, seems to be widespread for the species.

Despite being unable to believe his eyes at first sight, Persons repeatedly caught Wolf Spiders mating in groups of threes, night after night, almost as if it were normal for them. He documented their behavior and positions, and even snagged photographs where he could.

While the exact reason for why this occurs is unknown, the current theory is that there’s an evolutionary advantage to triad-based mating events in spiders. If this still sounds like a lame excuse to have a threesome, then just keeping reading...

Since the females can often be cannibalistic when they aren’t pleased with the mating results, having two males to divide the work amongst themselves has the potential to reduce energy expenditure among the two, as well as a greater likelihood of survival from the female’s cannibalistic behavior.

While everything sounds like a win/win for the male spiders so far, there are also some admitable downsides to this kind of activity, such as a decreased chance of reproductive success and extremely prolonged mating times.

Persons reportedly observed numerous times where the spiders weren’t successful in planting their seed, either because of failed insertion attempts or because of the other male getting in the way. This meant a lot of energy was wasted at failed attempts.

The other con, which involves the prolonged mating time, often meant that the threesome-based spider mating attempts lasted two to four times longer (as long as four hours) than a one-on-one mating attempt would, which left the groups of mating spiders open to predators for longer periods of time.

While it seems like there are some pretty big trade-offs for the chance to escape cannibalism, it would seem that the commonplace behavior has withstood the test of time. What may sound taboo in the human world is certainly a common practice in the spider world.

Whether or not this is a common activity for all species of spiders remains to be seen; this study only documents the Wolf Spider, which is a very specific type of spider.

Source: Live Science

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
DEC 09, 2018
Drug Discovery
DEC 09, 2018
Insect Venom Can Someday Combat Antibiotic-Resistant Infections
Insect venom, such as those secreted by wasps and bees, are considered an insect’s immune system defense because of its richness in bacterial killing...
JAN 02, 2019
Health & Medicine
JAN 02, 2019
The Creatures Living on Our Skin
While the images that you find on different websites of mites that live on humans may be frightening, most have a symbiotic relationship with us and are as...
JAN 02, 2019
Plants & Animals
JAN 02, 2019
Some Hummingbirds Are Built for Fighting Instead of Feeding
Hummingbirds are seemingly peaceful creatures; with their long, flexible bills, they’re continuously sipping nectar from plants to fuel their perpetu...
JAN 21, 2019
Plants & Animals
JAN 21, 2019
A Small Snake Eaten by a Larger Snake Turned Out to be a New Species
More than four decades ago, curious researchers carefully analyzed the stomach contents of a Central American coral snake that had been captured in Chiapas...
JAN 21, 2019
Cannabis Sciences
JAN 21, 2019
Effects of Low-Orbit Space on Growing Cannabis
According to Forbes.com, a company called Space Tango, co-founded by Kris Kimel, is interested in how hemp grows in low-space orbit. So yes, there soon will be "weed", at least in seed form,...
JAN 22, 2019
Plants & Animals
JAN 22, 2019
Bird Beak Shapes Aren't Influenced by Feeding Behavior, Study Claims
Over the years, scientists have learned about literally thousands of different bird species, and each one sports a distinctive beak shape. But why do bird...
Loading Comments...