Relatable Female Dragonflies Play Dead To Avoid Male Advances

dragonfly 2
Ra-Optics Ad
Rythmia Banner Ad

Female dragonflies say no to sex by faking their deaths, new research has found.

Once a female dragonfly has mated, all she is interested in doing is laying eggs and getting on with her life. So, when stalked by an unwelcome lover (or two), she crashes to the ground and plays dead. When the duped males eventually leave, the female flies off, according to the research, published online April 24 in the journal Ecology.

In summer 2015, Rassim Khelifa, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies at the University of Zurich, was out in the Swiss Alps, collecting eggs of the moorland hawker dragonfly (Aeshna juncea). His aim was to study the effects of climate change on dragonflies by exposing larvae hatched from these eggs to varying temperatures back in his lab. All that time spent by the pools watching female dragonflies and scouting out eggs led him to discover their death-feigning behavior. [Animal Sex: 7 Tales of Naughty Acts in the Wild]

“It was a byproduct of my research,” Khelifa told Live Science.

He found that the first strategy that females use to go unnoticed is to choose an egg-laying site that is concealed by plants. Even so, the females can be harassed by males on their way to and from the site. That’s when they use the other strategy of faking their own death, he said.

Out of a total of 35 female dragonflies that Khelifa observed, 27 females crashed to the ground or into shrubs, feigning their death, and of those, 21 succeeded in tricking the males. About 71 percent of those that crashed preferred dense vegetation cover to open ground for staging their death.

Hovering males rely on movement and color to detect females, so they were unable to spot the ones lying frozen on the ground or hidden away in the grass. All of the females that kept on flying instead were grabbed by the males midflight, Khelifa found.

The death-feigning females were fully aware of their surroundings; when Khelifa tried to catch them, 87 percent of the females got away.

Feigning death as a strategy for evading predators is seen in many animals, including dragonflies. Khelifa thinks that the moorland hawker females use the same approach to avoid sexual conflict with males. Mating with one male can fertilize all of the eggs of a female dragonfly and any subsequent mating with males that tend to be aggressive can harm the female, he said.

“When a male copulates with a female, it first extracts the sperm of the previous male,” Khelifa said. “This can damage the reproductive tract of the female. So, multiple mating is not advantageous for the female.”

Original article on Live Science.

If you enjoyed this article please SHARE it.

You can follow us on Instagram HERE

And if you haven’t already please help us reach 3 million Facebook fans by following us HERE

My Name is Kasim Khan and I am the founder of Educate Inspire Change. I have just returned from a 1 week stay at the world’s first medically licensed plant medicine retreat, it’s called Rythmia and is in the beautiful country of Costa Rica. During this week I had the most profound and transformational experience of my life and it’s not only me . . .over 95% of people who embark on this journey at Rythmia reports that they too had a life changing miracle. This magical place had such a profound effect on me that I am now dedicating my time to sharing this healing opportunity of a lifetime with you all.

Please click HERE to find out more information and book yourself in for the most magical week of your life.

Kash Khan

Kash Khan

Kash Khan is the founder of Educate Inspire Change (EIC). Since 2012 he has focused on on inspiring and educating others in order to improve their consciousness and connect to their true selves.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Kash Khan

Kash Khan

Kash Khan is the creator of Educate Inspire Change(EIC). He founded EIC in 2012 to help keep people informed, to encourage people to expand their consciousness and to inspire people to reach for their dreams.
Since 2019 he has been going through the most transformative period of his life working with Sacred Plant Medicines out of Costa Rica and is now focusing much more on creating conscious content with the sole purpose of giving people more self-awareness so that they can heal mind, body & spirit and live a full life of meaning and purpose.

Ra-Optics Ad

Search Posts

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Newsletter Signup

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter below to hear directly from our founder Kash.