Ticks have learned how to sex females more quickly
Male spider mites have learned to remove the exoskeleton from recently sexually matured females to be the first to mate with them. This increases their chances of leaving offspring, conducted by Austrian scientists.
Spider mites are tiny arachnids smaller than the tip of a ballpoint pen. They feed on plants and live in large colonies, leading to fierce competition among males for females.
Females only use the sperm of their first mate for fertilization - they even store it in a special pouch. To increase their chances of reproduction, males have to find females that have just become fertile.
The shedding of the exoskeleton - dead cells - indicates sexual maturity. Males have learned to remove it with their legs to quickly gain access to their partner's reproductive organs.
From the outside, the process may seem violent, but in reality, the males are facilitating the molting process, which benefits both arachnids.