Monday, September 21, 2009

Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum)

The last of the autumn dragonflies, these little guys hold out until the first hard frosts. The first two photos are dorsal and lateral views of a male. The abdomen of a male Sympetrum vicinum is relatively thin and lacking in strong black triangular lateral markings.

Based on color alone, the immature dragonfly below might be mistaken for a female. However, the claspers identify it as a male; also note the girth of the abdomen, nor is an ovipositor is visible ... compare this image to the photos of the females. The hamules distinguish this meadowhawk from other Sympetrum males (the camera I'm using has limits and I can't get a closeup).

A female consuming her prey. The first few abdominal segments are more robust than those of other female meadowhawks; also note the triangular ovipositor, easily seen in the field. The yellow legs are another distictive field mark of both males and females. They turn brownish with age but are not black like the legs of other local Sympetrum species.

Closeup of the female's distinctive ovipositor

A mating pair in the wheel position

Closeup of the male's claspers gripping the female