Female dragonflies fake sudden death to avoid male advances

Apr 27, 2017

By Sandrine Ceurstemont

Female dragonflies use an extreme tactic to get rid of unwanted suitors: they drop out the sky and then pretend to be dead.

Rassim Khelifa from the University of Zurich, Switzerland, witnessed the behaviour for the first time in the moorland hawker dragonfly (Aeshna juncea). While collecting their larvae in the Swiss Alps, he watched a female crash-dive to the ground while being pursued by a male.

The female then lay motionless on her back. Her suitor soon flew away, and the female took off once the coast was clear.

“I was surprised,” says Khelifa, who had never previously seen this in 10 years of studying dragonflies.

Female moorland hawkers are vulnerable to harassment when they lay their eggs since, unlike some other dragonflies, they aren’t guarded by their male mates. A single sexual encounter with another male is enough to fertilise all eggs and copulating again could damage their reproductive tract.

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8 comments on “Female dragonflies fake sudden death to avoid male advances

  • Female dragonflies use an extreme tactic to get rid of unwanted suitors: they drop out the sky and then pretend to be dead.

    Oh the drama…Ladies, just give them a fake name and phone number. The dishonesty and bad behavior that is part and parcel of the mating game. Oh well, at least us humans don’t do things like that… 😉



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  • Laurie,

    You have a marvelous sense of humor…

    Apropos your comment, I once received a phone number with some perplexing extra digits – from a lady who I thought had to have liked me; I ended up calling Paris.

    We haven’t talked in a while. R u mad at me? (Kidding.)



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  • Dan

    I ended up calling Paris.

    haha, that’s funny.
    No, not mad at all. I’ve been reading through your conversations on the other threads. Short on time lately.

    Time for Maddow!



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  • The female then lay motionless on her back. Her suitor soon flew away, and the female took off once the coast was clear.

    This happens to humans too……….I don’t want to talk about it………….



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  • laurieb
    can’t wait for the anisoptera season to start
    when females (or males) hang out on my knee
    on a warm summer’s day on my cottage deck
    and pick off my unwanted suitor … ms quito



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  • Joking:
    I do this exact thing when certain co-workers head my way.

    Not Joking:
    This behavior would NOT deter a subset of human males. As we’ve discussed previously, the appalling number of date rapes and drugging of women is clear evidence that an unconscious woman is extraordinarily vulnerable. So, the subset of males that stoop to this level are lower than insects; even insect men won’t sink so low.



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