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Size doesn’t matter – if you’re a spider

23 March 2004

BONN – Size has no bearing on sexual success, at least if you are a male spider, but small males do have to expend more energy, scientists at the University of Bonn in Germany have discovered.

The study, announced Tuesday, disproved a longtime assumption that female cellar spiders prefer big partners. The long-legged spiders, scientific name Pholcus phalangioides, are one of the most common in households and spin their cobwebs in ceiling corners worldwide.

Biologists led by Gabriele Uhl found that bigger males chased smaller males away when competing for a female. But in her normal rounds in the wild, the female was not choosy at all.

On the other hand, males were demonstrably picky, often ignoring under-sized females.

Small males did have one disadvantage: they had to make more movements during sexual contact in order to transfer sperm. But the small males had just as many offspring in the end as large ones.

Although their cobwebs are annoying, the spiders are good predators that keep nasty insects under control inside the house.



Subject: German news