We have all read or heard about male animals who mate with multiple females. But it is also true that many animals work in just the opposite way. In those cases, a single female is known to court and mate with males. This kind of mating system that is known as polyandry can often showcase some fascinating dynamics between animals of both sexes. This is because males (even animals) are constantly competing to beat each other.
They do this to ensure that only their genes make it to the next generation. The different ways that this competition can happen might be by expressing themselves in weird and unusual forms or preventing her from other males who might be looking to mate with her. It also includes guarding a female. In a few words, males get territorial and try to stop the sperm of another male from reaching a female’s egg.
What is even more enthralling is that the males of a few specific species are known to release some chemicals during or after the act of mating. This apparently makes the females less desirable and attractive to other males. But wait! That’s not the weird part. Some male animals even use “mating plugs” to put them inside a female during the process of mating. This stops the sperm of any other rival male from entering her.
What’s Black Widow Spider?
Black widow spiders are very popular for their deadly venom but how does it get lethal? Apparently, it does so by evolving at a fast pace over the years when they are in pursuit of even bigger prey. Black widow spiders show a very peculiar behavior in which the black widow males destroy a few parts of his partner’s web, wrapping up its sections with his silk. They might go even farther and bundle up almost half of her web. They do this because the webs of female contain pheromones that smell enticing to males.
Hence, the male black widow spider conveniently removes that option by tidying up webs of his female black widow spider. It is interesting that this behavior that might be considered possessive and borderline controlling in humans is somehow adorable in spiders.
Interesting Piece of Scientific Trivia
When researchers were trying to look into this fact, it became imperative to them to first ascertain whether this male black widow spider behavior could really make their partners less desirable other males. To verify this fact, the research collected as many as 50 female black widow spiders from a beach situated in British Columbia.
These spiders were carried to the lab. Since these female spiders had already mated, their offspring were reared to maturity. This allowed the researchers to control the new experiences that the offspring had. Then, they trapped several male black widow spiders behind different mesh cages around one female’s web and one male spider around another female’s web.
The experiment came to an exciting conclusion when it was deduced that destroying the female’s web did indeed make the female less attractive to the other males. On the other hand, the female who was surrounded by several males had the majority of those males trapped in a web, trying to mate with her.
What this entire study proves is that male spiders can get quite aggressive and territorial which the first sign of their dangerous behavior. Coming to the scientific facts, a study has revealed that black widows have a lot of toxic compounds present in their venom. These compounds are called latrotoxins and alpha-latrotoxins that is known to take over the victim’s nervous system.
A study by Jessica Garb exposes that getting a black widow spider bite can prove to be very dangerous for you because this toxic compound travels to the pre-synaptic regions of the neurons and then gets inserted into the membrane. She further goes on to say that because of this invasion, the vesicles of all the neurons throw out their neurotransmitters and this is when it gets excruciating.
Putting it in a simple way, alpha-latrotoxin has the potential to unleash all the signals of the nerve cells together, inflicting massive pain on the victim by swamping the nervous system. Another study of the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology states that black spider widows may just have evolved rapidly in order to spin much stronger webs to hold larger victims such as small mammals and reptiles. Researchers go on to add that the venom of black widow spiders contains extra chemicals that assist their neurotoxins in hitting the targets more accurately in the human system.
Symptoms of a Black Widow Spider Bite
When first bit by a black widow spider, you might feel a minor pinprick. It is even possible that you might not realize being bitten in the first place unless you actually see a spider. There are cases in which you might experience the pain right away. There is also likely to be swelling and redness around the bite.
The serious symptoms normally appear within some hours of the bite. It is natural to feel the pain that is not localized to where the spider bit you. You will feel pain in your chest and abdomen, and your muscles in these parts of the body will go rigid and cramp due to muscle spasms. You might also experience pain in your shoulders and back.
Some other symptoms might include:
- A Fever
- Difficulty in breathing which might be because of the paralysis of the diaphragm.
- A substantial blood pressure increase
- A headache which might partially be due to the sudden blood pressure change
In sporadic cases, venom poisoning due to a black widow spider may even lead to seizures or death. Therefore, to say the least, black widow spiders can be extremely lethal to humans, less so because of their possessive behavior but more because of their poisonous venom. Having said that, if a black widow spider has bitten you, we suggest you seek medical treatment without delay.