Redback girls control mating frequency

(1 December 2017) We’ve welcomed an uninvited guest this week: a female redback spider created an an untidy web on our veranda. At night, but also during the day, she comes out to hunt.
Redbacks live, in stark contrast with rednecks, in a strongly female dominated world. The males not only are much smaller, they have no other value than providing DNA, and to serve as a food source for the female during that process; it’s not a feast for her, because the males are tiny. The females are able to use part of the sperm from the male to create eggs. Not all of it, because she can – and will – store the sperm inside her body for up to two years. It saves her the hassle of having to mate again for quite some time… She will have to find another food source though.
The spiderlings are cannibalistic, considering their siblings the best available food source. Most will escape that misery, because the babies will be blown off in the wind which helps with the distribution efforts.
The redback spider, family of the black widow spider, has a widespread distribution in Australia, and inadvertent introductions have led to established colonies in including New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Japan and Belgium.
Redbacks prey on insects, spiders and small vertebrates that become ensnared in its web. It kills its prey by injecting a complex venom through its two fangs when it bites, before wrapping them in silk and sucking out the liquefied insides. Male spiders and spiderlings often live on the periphery of the female spiders’ web and steal leftovers.
There have been no human deaths directly due to redback bites since introduction of antivenom in 1956.