Male Spiders Dance for Attention of Perpetually Unimpressed Females

A recent study on a certain species of jumping spider reveals that males dance to attract female mates — whether or not they’re paying attention.

While courtship rituals are not unusual amongst arachnids, males in the Habronattus pyrrithrix species have developed extravagant dance moves they perform while trying to sway females. However, it seems that more often than not the females show little interest in the display, leaving scientists baffled as to why they go to such lengths — especially when most courting rituals between jumping spiders result in the males being eaten.

They studied the complexities of these courtship rituals and published their findings in the journal Behavioral Ecology. The males in the Habronattus genus of jumping spiders are known for their bright colors and unique patterns, especially on their faces and front legs, providing them an increased likelihood of being seen while dancing.

These spiders have large, forward-facing anterior median eyes in addition to smaller eyes on the sides of their heads. The scientists recorded a courtship dance between a male and a female, catching the female’s obvious lack of interest on camera. Despite the male’s dancing, wiggling, and flashing of his orange knees, the female turns away many times in the video.

Scientists have a few different theories as to why the male continues to dance, even if he’s not being seen. One theory is that he is actually being noticed and that the female is just testing him, trying to determine if he’s a suitable mate or just another guy dancing with his butt up in the air.

One of the scientists states in the paper, “that more attentive males may be more successful communicators and, in turn, more valuable mates.”