What is a sperm web?

Answered by Antonio Sutton

A sperm web is a specialized structure that is created by spiders during the courtship process. This web is made up of silk, which is produced by the spinnerets at the end of the spider’s abdomen, as well as the spigots of the epigastric silk glands located between the book lungs.

To understand the purpose of a sperm web, let’s delve into the fascinating world of spider reproduction. When it comes to mating, spiders have developed intricate behaviors and structures to ensure successful reproduction.

During courtship, male spiders often need to attract the attention of females and demonstrate their suitability as potential mates. One way they do this is by creating a sperm web. This web serves as a platform for the male spider to deposit his sperm, which will later be transferred to the female during mating.

The silk used to construct the sperm web is unique and different from the silk used for other purposes, such as building webs for prey capture or creating retreats. The silk for the sperm web is produced by the spinnerets, which are specialized organs located at the rear end of the spider’s abdomen.

In addition to the spinnerets, the silk for the sperm web also comes from the spigots of the epigastric silk glands. These silk glands are situated between the book lungs, which are respiratory organs found in spiders.

The combination of silk from the spinnerets and the spigots of the epigastric silk glands allows the male spider to create a strong and durable structure for his sperm. This ensures that the sperm web can withstand the movements and interactions that occur during courtship.

Once the sperm web is constructed, the male spider deposits his sperm onto it. The sperm is typically contained within small packets called spermatophores. These spermatophores are carefully placed by the male spider onto the silk threads of the sperm web.

The male spider then uses various courtship behaviors to attract the female’s attention and entice her to approach the sperm web. If the female is receptive, she will approach the web and come into contact with the spermatophores.

During mating, the female collects the spermatophores and stores them within her body for later use. This allows her to fertilize her eggs at a time that is most suitable for successful reproduction.

The sperm web serves as a crucial component of spider courtship, facilitating the transfer of sperm from the male to the female. It is an example of the intricate and diverse reproductive strategies that have evolved in spiders.

The sperm web is a specialized structure created by male spiders to deposit their sperm during courtship. It is constructed using silk produced by the spinnerets and the spigots of the epigastric silk glands. This unique web allows for the successful transfer of sperm from the male to the female, ensuring the continuation of spider species.