According to a new study published in journal Ecology carried out by scientists at University of Zurich, female dragonfly fakes death to fend off persistent suitors and avoid unwanted mating.

Researchers found that female common hawkers, also called moorland hawkers or sedge darners, fake their own deaths by adopting techniques such as crashing to the ground and laying motionless until the male dragonfly leaves. This behaviour has been observed for the first time by scientists.

The study was led by Dr Rassim Khelifa, lead author of the study, who was out and about along with his team in the Swiss Alps to conduct an experiment on odonate eggs to see how temperature affects the larvae. While carrying out the study about the eggs, researchers witnessed a dragonfly being chased by another near a pond.

Suddenly the dragonfly that was being chased crashed to the ground and lay motionless upside down for quite some time – precisely the amount of time the chasing dragonfly – the male – remained on the scene.

Khelifa said he expected the female would be unconscious or even dead, after crashing to the ground. However that wasn’t the case and the dragonfly flew away the moment it realised that someone was approaching.

Scientists believe that even though it’s a risky strategy, faking death appears to female dragonflies survive longer and reproduce more frequently and more successfully.


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