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Monday, December 8, 2008

The sex life of the Redback Spider

The Australian male redback spider is rather romantic in his courtship - he plucks the female’s web, similar to strumming a guitar which is music to her ears. But after she succumbs to his advances and while he is engrossed in the mating ritual, she begins to eat him. The sex lasts from 6 to 31 minutes and she doesn’t even have the courtesy to wait until it’s all over.

Redbacks are only one of two spiders in the world where the male is eaten during copulation.

Redback bites occur frequently, particularly over the summer months and only the female bite is dangerous. They can cause serious illness and have caused deaths but since they rarely leave their webs, humans are not likely to be bitten unless a body part such as a hand is put directly into the web.

Common early symptoms are pain (which can become severe), sweating (always including local sweating at bite site), muscular weakness, nausea and vomiting. Anti-venom is available. No deaths have occurred since its introduction.