Female dragonflies fake death to avoid unwanted mating

According to Dr Rassim Khelifa, lead author of the study, said it’s the first time scientists have seen dragonflies feigning death as a means of avoiding mating.

By Zee Media Bureau | Updated: May 01, 2017, 14:34 PM IST
Female dragonflies fake death to avoid unwanted mating

New Delhi: A new study reveals that female dragonflies pretend to be dead in order to avoid the unwanted attention of males.

Researchers from the University of Zurich found that female common hawkers, also called moorland hawkers or sedge darners, fake their own deaths to avoid mating – crashing to the ground and laying motionless until the male dragonfly leaves.

According to Dr Rassim Khelifa, lead author of the study, said it’s the first time scientists have seen dragonflies feigning death as a means of avoiding mating.

Khelifa had been out in the Swiss Alps to conduct an experiment on odonate eggs to see how temperature affects the larvae.

As he conducted the experiment, Khelifa witnessed a dragonfly being chased by another near a pond.

“I witnessed a dragonfly dive to the ground while being pursued by another dragonfly. The individual that crashed was a female,” the scientist said, according to Newsweek. “She was lying motionless and upside down on the ground.”

Khelifa said he expected the female would be unconscious or even dead, after crashing to the ground.

“But she surprised me by flying away quickly as I approached,” Khelifa said.

Scientists believe that even though it's a risky strategy, faking death appears to female dragonflies survive longer and reproduce more frequently and more successfully.

The study has been published in the journal Ecology.