Being a male spider can be dangerous: Female arachnids tend to be larger and more aggressive than their mates, and they’re often compelled to snack on the fathers of their future offspring. In fact, some males readily offer themselves up to give new moms a much-needed nutritional boost.

But some web-weaving wooers have found a way to avoid getting eaten. A study published last month in Biology Letters focuses on one of these species — one that’s particularly skilled with its silks.

National Geographic reports that Pisaurina mira, more commonly known as the nursery web spider, is one of at least 30 species of spider where the male ties the female up before copulation. But it’s one of only two known species that spins the restraint — the “bridal veil,” researchers call it — while hanging in mid-air.

To test the importance of the bridal veil, Alissa Anderson of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln plugged up the silk-spinning organs of half of her nursery web spider subjects.

“We found that males with relatively longer legs and larger body size were more likely to mate and were less likely to be cannibalized prior to copulation. Regardless of relative size, males capable of silk wrapping were less likely to be cannibalized during or following copulation and had more opportunities for sperm transfer,” the authors write in the paper. Males that could spin a bridal veil could sometimes even sneak a second copulation in before they had to flee the scene.

In other words, size matters — but tying skills do, too.

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