Female Dragonflies Avoid Sex, According To Science

First Posted: May 02, 2017 06:00 AM EDT

Sex could be a basic, "animalistic" need, but it seems that not all species are too keen about doing it. In fact, female dragonflies go to great lengths to avoid it -- so much so that they tend to fake their own deaths.

A report from National Geographic stated that for the first time, scientists observed female moorland hawker dragonflies freezing mid-air, then crashing to the ground. They lie motionless as two agressive males try to pursue them. This move has been dubbed as "sexual death feigning." It is a behavior used by females if they are coerced into mating.

Live Science pointed out that once a female dragonfly has mated, the only thing she is interested in doing is laying eggs, which is why she is not too fond of unwelcome lovers. To avoid them, she crashes to the ground and plays dead. While this act could mean female dragonflies risk injury or death, it seems that it is a better option than the alternative.

Rassim Khelifa, a biologist from the University of Zurich, has a study published in the journal Ecology. In it, he stated that in a lot of dragonflies, males have a tendency to seize the females with or without consent as a show of power. This is why female dragonflies tend to avoid sex. In his study, he found that faking death works for over 60 percent of females trying to deceive aggressive males.

Mating with a single male can fertilize all of the eggs of a female dragonfly, and any mating activities afterward can be harmful to them. "When a male copulates with a female, it first extracts the sperm of the previous male," Khelifa shared. "This can damage the reproductive tract of the female. So, multiple mating is not advantageous for the female."

There are few other animals that play dead in times of distress. Among these animals include two species of cichlid fish, nursery web spiders, hognose snakes, fire bellied toads, praying mantis and, of course, opossums.

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