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Male Peacock Spiders Work Hard To Woo Ladies, Study Shows

Dec 04, 2015 02:13 PM EST
Peacock Spider
Male peacock spiders will do everything it takes to court a female, including exotic dances, fanning their brightly colored abdomen flaps and taping their legs in a rhythmic fashion.
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons )

Male peacock spiders put on full courtship displays using complex dances, vibrations and color to impress the ladies. But they have to put in a lot of effort to woo females, who are generally not easy to impress, a new study revealed.

In order to better understand the extent to which a male peacock spider (Maratus volans) will go to compete for a single female's affection, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of New South Wales collected 64 male/female pairs from Sydney, Australia placed in a courtship arena and observed the spiders' natural behaviors

When a male peacock spider spots a female of interest, he breaks out a series of dance moves where he unfolds his abdomen flap and then struts back and forth, all while waving and taping his legs in rhythmic motions. (Scroll to read more...)

Females either shrug off the invitation to mate or signaled males they should try harder by waving their own abdomens. Others became aggressive and even attacked and kill their male suitor.  

Overall, only 16 males were successful in courting stubborn females, none of which re-mated a second time. It follows then that the females became more selective, so Dr. Michael Kasumovic, one of the study researchers from the University of New South Wales, advises that male spiders, "Try your best the first time, as once a female is mated, she gets pickier."   

Peacock spiders measure only three to five millimeters and are endemic to Australia. Males are known for their intensely colored abdomen flap – similar to that of a peacock – that lifts up and fans out during courtship.  

The findings were recently published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.

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