Weird Nature Female Dragonflies Will Fake Their Death To Avoid Unwanted Sexual Advances  

Kate Jacobson
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Scientists recently discovered that female dragonflies fake their own deaths when approached by a male dragonfly lookin' to get lucky. Because nothing says leave me alone like "I'm dead."

This new revelation has researchers wondering if animals have been doing this all along, and we just haven't noticed. Like the plight of the females of many species – looking at you, ducks – female animals are often aggressively pursued by males in an attempt to spread their DNA. There are plenty of ways female animals have combated these unwanted suitors, including evolving to have special vaginas, pretending to be male, and telling them they have a boyfriend. But this new method is definitely an interesting take, and it's, apparently, super effective. Aggressive dragonfly sex is only fun for one party, and the females have had enough. 

So ladies, instead of telling the bros at the bar to drop dead, maybe it's time we pretended to do it ourselves (and - once they finally walk away - get up and hang with our friends since, ya know, that's why we came to the bar in the first place.)

Female Dragonflies Will Straight Up Fall From The Sky If Met By An Unwanted Suitor


Female Dragonflies Will Straig... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Female Dragonflies Will Fake Their Death To Avoid Unwanted Sexual Advances
Photo: ScottDKP/flickr/CC-BY-ND 2.0

Rassim Khelifa, a researcher at the University of Zurich, was studying moorland hawker dragonflies when he noticed the females doing something strange during mating season. If a female was being aggressively pursued by a male who was not her mate, she would drop from the sky kamikaze-style and pretend she was dead. Once the male dragonfly left, she would get right back up as if nothing happened. 

Of the 31 females he was observing, 27 did this every time a horny male dragonfly came into their vicinity. 

If A Female Dragonfly Mates With The Wrong Suitor, She Could Mess Up Her Entire Reproductive System


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Photo: Greg @ Lyle Pearson Auto Show/flickr/CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

There are two main reasons dragonflies don't want to mate with the wrong guy. First (and most obviously), dragonflies do, in fact, choose their mates, and nobody likes a rapist. And, secondly, if these dragonflies do mate with the wrong person, their little insect bodies can be messed up for the rest of their lives.

When female moorland hawker dragonflies lay their eggs, they aren't guarded by the their mate. And if they mate with another dragonfly too soon after, it can cause permanent damage to their reproductive systems, as well as jeopardize the lives of any eggs the new male might fertilize. 

Dragonflies Of Both Genders Play Dead To Avoid Predators


Dragonflies Of Both Genders Pl... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Female Dragonflies Will Fake Their Death To Avoid Unwanted Sexual Advances
Photo: Photos by Danny B./flickr/CC-BY-NC 2.0

While it might be strange to see female dragonflies exhibiting this type of behavior toward males, it's not strange that both sexes do it when it comes to predators. According to researchers, it's very common for dragonflies to fall from the sky and play dead if they sense a predator nearby

Khelifa said it's likely female dragonflies evolved to adopt this technique for suitors after seeing how effective it was at warding off predators. "It's likely that females expanded its use to overcome male coercion," he told the New Scientist