Male orb-weaver spiders give back rubs to their mates so they don't get eaten!
The male golden orb-weaver spider has a dangerous job when it's time for mating.
The male spider, poor guy, is considerably smaller than the female. Some females spiders can be up to ten times the size of males.Talk about Napoleon complex!
That said, a male spider has a bit to overcompensate for since the female may be more interested in eating him than in mating.
Males have several strategies. One of their tactics to avoid becoming lunch is to give the female a back rub. The massaging motions of the spider are officially called mate binding.
Basically, the male massages the female, so that she'll allow him to mate with her, without killing him before he gets the chance.
The male spider releases silk over the back of the female as he massages her. Even with the efforts to calm the female, the male still has a high chance of being eaten. In a study, 40% of the female spiders were not calmed, and many of that number ate the male.
The same study also suggested that it was the feeling of the massage that soothed the female, and not the smell of the silk as some scientists suggested.