MAR 06, 2017 10:58 AM PST

Study Reveals Why These Spiders Have Threesomes

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

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 27, 2019
Health & Medicine
DEC 27, 2019
What Does the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Say About Cannabis?
A recent article in the Chicago Tribune explains that Dr. Steven Aks, director of toxicology at Stroger Hospital in Chicago, is foreseeing a surge in what...
DEC 27, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 27, 2019
How Dog Genomics Can Teach Us More About Human Health
It's been estimated that there are around 70 million pet dogs in the United States, with around 36 percent of households owning at least one dog....
JAN 19, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 19, 2020
Flying Foxes Must be Careful of Crocodiles When Hydrating
Flying foxes absolutely despise the Sun, and with that in mind, it should come as no surprise to anyone that they look for shade whenever possible. One pro...
JAN 20, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 20, 2020
Horned Lizards Do Anything to Protect Their Eggs From Predators
When a female horned lizard lays her eggs, she finds herself up against several predators that want to devour them. Fortunately, the female horned lizard d...
JAN 28, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 28, 2020
A Slug Does All it Can to Defend Against Hungry Ants
Slugs are slow, and this makes them easy targets for predators however big or small they might be. Here, we see that a slug has been spotted by a hungry co...
FEB 22, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
FEB 22, 2020
46,000-Year-Old Bird Recovered From Siberian Permafrost
In 2018 in a place called Belaya Gora in northeastern Siberia, a frozen bird was found in the ground. A sample of DNA was recovered from the bird....
Loading Comments...