Courtship is to spiders what the Daytona 500 is to race car drivers. Both involve a sprint to the finish line, but for male black widows, the prize is a mate. Now, scientists have shown that, unlike Daytona 500 drivers, male black widows actually benefit from following their competition. Males track the pheromones a female’s web releases, and they find mates faster by following the silk trails their competitors leave behind, The New York Times reports. Researchers marked males with paint and released them at different distances from the female’s web. Those who were farther away from the web arrived just as fast as those who were closer, researchers report today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. And when repeated in a lab setting, 95% of the males chose to follow the paths of their rivals instead of making their own.
Click here for free access to our latest coronavirus/COVID-19 research, commentary, and news.
Support nonprofit science journalism
Science’s extensive COVID-19 coverage is free to all readers. To support our nonprofit science journalism, please make a tax-deductible gift today.