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Female Dragonflies Fake Death To Avoid Unwanted Male Attention

They do it when the harassment is intense.

Rassim Khelifa, an entomologist from the University of Zurich, Switzerland, observed that the female moorland hawker dragonfly (Aeshna juncea) uses a clever tactic to drive away aggressive males.

"While collecting their larvae in the Swiss Alps, Khelifa saw 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," reports the New Scientist.

Khelifa later saw "27 out of 31 females plummeting to the ground and playing dead to avoid males." He revealed that "21 of these ploys were successful."

The article notes: "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 fertilize all eggs and copulating again could damage their reproductive tract."

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Another dragonfly expert, Adolfo Cordero-Rivera at the University of Vigo in Spain, said that "plunging at high speed is risky for dragonflies." He theorizes, "Females may only behave in this way if male harassment is intense."

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