Most of you who’re reading this have probably done some weird stuff yourselves to avoid someone, right?
But, female dragonflies are definitely taking things to the next level- they literally fake death when they want to avoid intimacy with male partners.
However, this is only seen in one specific species of dragonfly- the moorland hawkers.
Faking Death to Avoid Males?
According to Rassim Khelifa from the University of Zurich, Switzerland who was collecting samples of larvae in the Swiss Alps several years ago, he watched 27 out of 31 female dragonflies fall from the sky, crash to the ground, and pretend being dead to avoid males.
Khelifa explains that this is probably a result of the fact that moorland hawkers don’t stay together with their male mates after the copulation-they lay eggs on their own.
Why Do Female Dragonflies Do this?
According to National Geographic, the mating rituals of the moorland hawker dragonfly begin with the so-called acrobatic aerial copulation.
Namely, while flying, the female contorts so that her lady parts that that are near the end of their body connect with the male parts that are near the thorax.
But, before this happens, other males may appear because they’re also looking to mate, but evolution makes the female resist if she’s already copulated and been inseminated.
What’s more, as she has a limited amount of eggs, the reproductive tract may get damaged from too much copulation.
The dragonfly male also removes any sperm before it inserts its own.
Consequently, to prevent more copulation, the female may fake death and lye motionless on the ground. The females from this specie lay their eggs alone, unlike other dragonflies, and don’t have male mates protecting them.
So, they often hid amongst dense vegetation areas near ponds to lay eggs.
Is Faking Death Exclusive to Dragonflies?
Khelifa wants to discover if this behavior is unique for species that lay eggs alone or not.
As you may already know, extreme tactics to address sexual conflict isn’t just seen in moorland hawkers- the damselfly species eat their partner!