Monday, February 8, 2010

White-Faced Meadowhawk

White-Faced Meadowhawks (Sympetrum obtrusum) are found throughout much of Canada and the United States, although they are absent from the southern portion of the United States. They can be found in a wide variety of habitats usually near forested areas, including near ponds, lakes, streams, marshes and occasionally boggy areas. The one I photographed here was near an old pond turned wetland on our farm. It was very easy to approach, rarely flying more than a foot away at any given time. It's wings were stunning, they looked like liquid gold shimmering in the sunlight. Like all dragonflies these beauties feed on a wide variety of small insects that they capture while in flight. Their long basket-like legs are perfect for scooping up unsuspecting insects and dining while in flight, giving new meaning to the term "fast food". 

The one pictured here is a female, mature males have a distinctive "white face" and they are the only dragonfly within this genus that does. They also have a bright red abdomen and an amber patch near the base of the wings. Females and immature males are golden in color, some mature females will have a faded reddish abdomen. Instead of the white face of the adult male, they will have a yellow face.

Dragonflies are one of the best forms of insect control we have. Each summer they visit our backyard goldfish pond in large numbers. I can sit and watch them for hours capturing food, competing for mates, and alighting on nearby surfaces warming their wings in the sun. They are the epitome of summer for me. 


  1. I have to tell you, I really appreciate these snapshots of different insects...really wonderful work happens on this blog! I have a small token, a "shout-out" for you, on my blog :)

  2. I stopped by your blog and want to thank you so much for such kind words. I am so glad you enjoy this blog, followers such as yourself brighten my day. Your words of praise put a smile on my face...."Speed dating for insects" LOVE IT!!! :o)

  3. 'Epitome of summer' -- well said! That has to be one of the most magical things -- to sit next to a lake or marsh and watch the dragonflies hunting and patrolling their territories. All the jewel-like colors, the quicker-than your eye can follow flight . . .

    Getting photos of them, however, is challenging! Great shot =)

  4. Thank you so much Rebecca and Kenton for your kind words. I am beginning to get cabin fever, the urge to get outside and explore in the summer sun is almost more than I can stand! I love the dragonflies, I agree their colors are spectacular! Like a living kaleidoscope of jewel tones buzzing about in the sunshine.