Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Meadowhawks ... Sympetrum sp.

The red abdomens tell us the small dragonflies in the first few photos are males but it can be hard to nail down the species. A mature White-faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum obtrusum) has a distinctly white face and black legs.

The red face on the dragonfly in the next three images indicates a Cherry-faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum internum) or a Ruby Meadowhawk (Sympetrum rubicundulum). These two species are difficult to distinguish from one another in the field or from a picture.

The abdomen has well defined black markings underneath (this isn't very clear from the photos), this tends to rule out an Autumn Meadowhawk. On the other hand I would expect to see darker legs than this on a Cherry-faced or Ruby Meadowhawk. So I'm not entirely certain as to the species ...

Female meadowhawks are light brownish orange. The black legs and a white face indicate a female White-faced Meadowhawk.

And this? ... yellow legs and a lack of strong black marks on the underside of the abdomen; possibly a female Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum)? (Note ... I've acquired some excellent field guides since this was originally posted. In addition to the field marks already noted, the triangular ovipositor definitely identifies this as a female Sympetrum vicinum).

Last but not least, a close-up of a male ... whatever species he may be.