The Female dragonflies who don’t wish to mate will fake their own death, dropping from the sky and laying on the ground frozen until the rejected male leaves them alone, a study from the University of Zurich found, Newsweek reported.
The behaviour was noted in the Swiss Alps, where male dragonflies outnumber females. In 86 percent of cases, females would fall to the ground when males approached them. Those that kept flying “were all intercepted by a male.”
Even though it is a risky tactic, faking death appears to help females survive longer and reproduce more offspring by avoiding coercion.
Khelifa further noticed that when males are not near females lay eggs in more open areas, leading him to reason they lay eggs in thick vegetation to avoid male attention.
The strategy is not unusual — robber flies fake their deaths, so do the mantis and the spider species Pisaura mirabilis. Males from these species fake death after mating so as not to be eaten. This is, however, the first time the tactics were noted in dragonflies.
Death and mating have an uneasy relationship in the wild. National Geographic reported that Pacific salmons die after reproducing; mother Stegodyphus lineatus spiders allow their offspring to devour them after they are born; and male orb weavers of the Argiope genus die after they insert their second sex organ into the females of that species.