It seems the first time’s the charm for the female Australian jumping spider.
A recent study by Vivian Mendez and her colleagues at Macquarie University, Australia, found that most female Servaea incana spiders only mate once in their lifetime, after which they become unwilling or even aggressive toward males who try to mate with them.
The researchers examined the behavior of 89 female spiders that were caught in Australia while they were immature and hadn’t yet mated. Once they matured, the female spiders were paired with a male every day for 10 days, and then for one day every 10 days after that. The found that once the lady spiders had sealed the deal once, with a single male, the female was unlikely to be open to round two.
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Naturally, because adult female Servaea incana spiders only mate a single time, there’s a great deal of competition among male spiders for potential partners.
“Females are the gatekeepers to male reproduction,” Mendez told phys.org. “There is great competition amongst males over virgin females.”
Scientists theorize that the females’ behavior with subsequent potential partners — turning away, or fending the males off with their legs — indicates the females, like a number of other spider and insect species, have the ability to store sperm for later use. If the female mates with other, subsequent males, that stored sperm can be diluted or replaced, causing sperm competition. The females’ reluctance to mate once she has stored one male’s sperm could be an effort to avoid this sperm competition.
Talk about a one-night stand!