Cheating at Love

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Males from a South American spider species woo female arachnids by offering them gifts to raise their chances for mating.

Male Paratrechalea ornata spiders capture an unsuspecting insect, wrap it in a ball of silk then go in search of a female that would take their gift.

Once the female takes the aptly-called “nuptial gift” and begins feasting, the male spider sees an opportunity and starts mating.

But hard times and scarcity can force some of these eight-legged Casanovas to cheat their way to love, Live Science reported.

Scientists wrote in a study that male P. ornata would sometimes prepare a fake nuptial gift to trick the female, such as using a dead leaf or leftover bits of an insect.

They studied spider species from two different habitats in Uruguay.

Southern regions had stable habitats and saw an abundance of food. But northern ones, impacted by the El Niño weather phenomenon, are more unstable for the spider.

When researchers studied the gifts, they noticed that southern spiders only offered worthless treats 38 percent of the time. Sadly, this rate rose to 96 percent in northern male arachnids.

The team suggested that this prevalence of worthless gifts highlights the male spider’s strategy to survive harsh environments, forcing them to keep food for themselves instead of giving it away – even for love.

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