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ASU researchers: Why female spiders take a bite out of love

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GLENDALE, AZ (CBS5) -
You may have celebrated Valentine's Day with flowers, chocolate, or a nice dinner. But for some ladies, no display of affection is ever enough. This is a cautionary tale of the tangled webs females weave. 

While love is in the air on this February 14th, the atmosphere in the spider lab at Arizona State University's West campus is a little more tense.

"It's not a conflict over what school you send the kids to or who does the dishes, it's a conflict over whether she lets you live," said associate professor Chad Johnson. He and his students have found that - among black widows - males have about a 50 percent chance of getting gobbled up either during - or after - the deed. 

"Males get something out of the deal, even if they get dead, they do get one mating," Johnson said. "Sometimes in life, that's all you can hope for."

But they also have about a 15 percent chance of getting eaten before sex with some female spider species. 

"Sometimes females need food more than they need sperm," Johnson said.

Another theory is these ladies are very selective - they mate with the best and eat the rest. Johnson said it also could just be a personality trait, which some folks we talked to agreed with. 

"I think it's a control issue, a lot of ladies are controlling," said JD Lasswell.

"If he's that good looking, maybe he's that good of a taste, I don't know," said Jair Romero.

"It's pretty smart," said Monica De La Rosa.

So what - if anything - can we learn from our eight-legged friends?

"Guys out there, you should learn how to cook, is maybe what we've learned," Johnson said. "Keep your ladies happy and well-fed and you've got the best chance of surviving."

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