Variegated Meadowhawk

Variegated meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum corruptum) have variable coloration. Variegated meadowhawks begin with olive green,  reddish and greyish markings which turn more red as the dragonflies mature. These members of the Skimmer Family (Libellulidae) have cranberry eyes, a bi-colored stigma (wing node) and a tinted leading edge to their wings. The abdomen has white spots along the lateral sides and there are two thoracic side stripes terminating in yellow spots low on the thorax. Female variegated meadowhawks are less red than males.

Variegated meadowhawks are recorded in 43 of the states but are predominantly found west of the Mississippi River and in the corresponding southern tier of Canada. They are usually found near water but will hunt away from water. The aerial adults feed on soft-bodied insects which they snatch from the air.

Variegated meadowhawk eggs overwinter in diapause until spring. The niads (larvae) feed underwater on aquatic invertebrates. In cold climates the niads may persist for several years. These dragonflies are unusual because some are migratory, wintering in warmer southern areas. When migrating they fly close to the ground and navigate visually.

This variegated meadowhawk was hunting atop Pilot Butte near Lookout CA (Modoc County).


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