The meadowhawks form a group of small, late-season skimmers that can be difficult to tell apart. The Kalosympetrum subgenus in particular, which includes the ruby, white-faced, cherry-faced, and Jane's meadowhawks, are often difficult to distinguish and their taxonomic status is not in agreement among experts. To identify meadowhawks, notice the coloration of the face, legs, and wing veins in addition to the body. Mature males in all species, except for the black meadowhawk, have red markings, including females in some species.
This is an ornate and colorful species. Juveniles and females are orange to brown in overall color and have 2 white stripes on the side of the thorax with a yellow spot at the bottom end of each. Males turn red with maturity and gradually lose the stripes on the side of the thorax but retain the two yellow spots. The abdomen of both sexes has a complex pattern that varies with sex and maturity. Juveniles and females have bright white spots along the side of the abdomen which disappear with maturity in males. Mature males have a red face and eyes. Juvenile males and female have brownish eyes that turn partly lavender in mature females. The veins along the front edge of the wings are red-orange. The length of the body varies from 1.5 to 1.7 inches.
Description of Habitat/Range:
Usually found at non-moving waters, slow streams, and including ponds, This species is found throughout United States and southern Canada. It is very common in the west. In the east, including Wisconsin, it is migratory.
This species' flight season stretches from early spring to early fall with two migration peaks. Adults arrive in the state within days after Common Green Darners, our earliest dragonfly, arrive in the state. These early migrants lay eggs in shallow and often fishless waters and then continue northward - usually only present for a few days in any location. Their offspring start to emerge as early as mid-summer and then migrate south into the early fall.