Notes on Pisaura mirabilis

Pisaura Mirabilis with egg sac. Copyright: Wendy Scowen
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On the 17/04/20 I came across an adult male Pisaura mirabilis that I believed was in the process of mating with a female but on closer inspection I could see that the male was holding the female in his fangs. This is odd because the male should be roaming around looking for a female to mate with, not eat! I collected the male with his prey as I was curious to how long it would take for him to consume her as she was quite large if not larger than the male. For just over 29 hours the male carried the female around but during that time he had wrapped her in silk and this is when it dawned on me, that rather than a meal, the female was actually a nuptial gift albeit a very large one! Pisaura mirabilis males practice a behaviour called "nuptial gift" giving which involves them capturing prey, wrapping it in silk and then offering it to a female. If the female accepts and starts feeding, the male takes this chance to copulate with the female while she is preoccupied. Not all nuptial gifts contain food but instead the male wraps up a worthless gift like plant debris to present to the female (Ghislandi, P.G. et al 2017). Whether these worthless gifts are due to the male "cheating" or limitation of available prey is not entirely sure. What we do know is that the male will expend far more silk in the wrapping of worthless gifts so maybe, just maybe he is a cheating blighter after all. Ghislandi, P.G. et al (2017) - Silk wrapping of nuptial gifts aids cheating behaviour in male spiders.
Added by Tone Killick at 11:11 on Mon 20th Apr 2020. Return to Summary for Pisaura mirabilis