Female dragonflies fake their own death to avoid mating with unwanted males

During his research in the Swiss Alps, Rassim Khelifa from the University of Zurich observed female moorland hawker dragonflies feigning death by dropping from the sky when pursued by males, only to resume flight once the coast was clear, showcasing an intriguing tactic to deter unwanted suitors.

In the intricate world of dragonfly courtship, female dragonflies have been observed employing a remarkable tactic to deter unwanted advances: they resort to a dramatic maneuver of dropping from the sky and feigning death.


This fascinating behavior was first documented by Rassim Khelifa, a researcher from the University of Zurich, Switzerland, during his fieldwork in the Swiss Alps, where he was collecting larvae of the moorland hawker dragonfly (Aeshna juncea).


Khelifa’s observation unfolded as he witnessed a female dragonfly being pursued by a persistent male. In a sudden and daring move, the female abruptly descended to the ground, crashing with a deliberate thud. Once grounded, she assumed a motionless position on her back, effectively mimicking the appearance of a deceased insect. Meanwhile, the male, perhaps startled or confused by this unexpected turn of events, eventually abandoned his pursuit and flew away.


Only after the coast was clear did the female dragonfly break her facade of death and resume her flight, seemingly unharmed by her dramatic performance. This behavior, as observed by Khelifa, sheds light on the intricate dynamics of dragonfly mating rituals and underscores the ingenuity of nature’s evolutionary adaptations in the pursuit of survival and reproductive success.

Written by Telha

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