Randy spider sings during, well, you know
A scientist friend who knows I pride myself on being able to write about anything, no matter how shocking or less-than-tasteful, sent me an animal-behavior research journal with one particular report flagged with a note that said, "Charley ... I dare you!"
Folks, this one wasn't even close.
The title of the article was "Copulatory Dialogue: Female Spiders Sing During Copulation to Influence Male Genitalic Movements."
Does he actually think I would have qualms writing about spiders who sing during sex? My only worry is that most of my readers wouldn't know the meaning of all the big words. But that's fine. There are tasteful ways around that.
I can explain to them, for instance, that "copulatory dialogue" is not the conversation you have with a police officer after he pulls you over for speeding.
The article simply relates that researchers with way too much time on their hands discovered that female spiders like to sing to their partners when they are doing the arachnid boogie-woogie and that this seems to increase the male spider's, well, enthusiasm for the task at hand. (Or eight hands, as the case may be.) That is not only not particularly salacious, but not surprising. A lot of creatures sing during sex, some quite loudly and out of tune. My neighbors come to mind.
The fact that researchers often use the sex lives of lesser life forms to make the little beasts interesting to lay persons is an old gambit, first documented in a Monty Python segment on mollusks.
When John Cleese, playing an itinerant door-to-door documentarian, couldn't get a man and his wife interested in the subject of mollusks - various shelled critters - he resorted to a detailed account of their sex lives. (The mollusks, not the man and his wife.)
"The mollusk is a randy little fellow," he said, "whose primitive brain scarcely strays from the subject of you-know-what."
He goes on to say that the sea scallop "is second in depravity only to the common clam" which he described as a "right harlot ... a cynical bed-hopping bit of seafood that makes Fanny Hill look like a dead pope."
So clearly, spiders who sing during sex have nothing on lusty snails and boisterous bivalves.
The only question, which isn't answered in the research report on spiders, is what do the girl spiders sing to get the guys ready to rumble? "Let's Get It On"? "Freaky Girl"? "Itsy Bitsy Spider"?
More alarming to male spiders should be that some female spiders, like female preying mantises, like to combine dinner and a date. The females actually kill and eat the males after sex. If a male spider hears his partner humming Weird Al Yankovic's "Girls Just Want to Have Lunch," he'd better start singing "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off."
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