Biting in dragonfly fights


Slow motion films of fight behaviour of five different species of Odonata were analysed. In all cases biting played a major role. The biting duration depended on the duration of a stable connection between the two opponents. Sitting odonates showed much longer biting than those that were flying. In fights of Anax junius and Calopteryx splendens long biting between males led to serious injuries and death. Two males of Anax imperator bit each other by very short strikes during looping flights together, better described as hack-biting. This hack-biting was seen in two other fights: a female of Libellula quadrimaculata bit a harassing male on the head, immobilizing him, and during a male–male fight in C. splendens flying nearly on the spot. Loops, very brief but relatively stable flight positions, were used for biting in three cases. The significance of biting in inter- and intrasexual competition in Odonata is discussed.

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