To Know Him Is To Mate Him

Female wolf spiders prefer to mate with familiar males

02-01-2004 // Roger Di Silvestro

A BEHAVIORAL SCIENTIST at Cornell University has found that when female wolf spiders hit the singles scene, they prefer males they know, while their reaction to strange males gives new meaning to the term "ladykiller." Male wolf spiders mature earlier than do females, although the two sexes often intermingle in the wild when females are young. Do those experiences during arachnid adolescence make a difference later in life? Apparently so. When Eileen Heberts, of Cornell’s Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, exposed sexually mature females to males they knew in childhood and to unfamiliar males, the highest proportion of mating occurred with familiar males. As for newcomers, the females preferred to kill and eat them. "This shows that invertebrates have social recognition," says Heberts. Not to mention rather uncompromising dating preferences.

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