LIFE CYCLE

Mating: Courting Life and Death

The tarantula's precarious courtship begins prior to coupling with the male spinning a sperm web. After completing the web, the male deposits droplets of sperm onto the surface. He then loads the bulbs of his pedipalps--short, leglike appendages near the mouth (top right)--with the sperm droplet and pursues a female.

After locating her, the male gently subdues her with caresses, then bends her backwards and inserts his palpal bulbs into her reproductive slit (illustration). Following copulation, the male scrambles away since females occasionally kill their suitors.