Wisconsin Odonata Survey


Sympetrum danae  (Sulzer, 1776)
Black Meadowhawk

Libellulidae, Skimmer Family

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.


Global: G5     Wisconsin: S3    

Distinguishing Characteristics:

This species is readily separated from other meadowhawks by its black coloration in mature specimens, and is the only small, dark, late-season dragonfly in Wisconsin. The length of the body varies from 0.8 to 0.9 inches. The female and immature black meadowhawks have yellow markings. The male has a dark face and no red markings. Males have small yellow markings along the sides of its abdomen that diminish with age.

Description of Habitat/Range:

Common throughout Canada and northern United States, including mountains in the west, this species prefers a variety of wetlands, including bogs, fens, marshes, and sometimes ponds or lakes. It is infrequently found in Wisconsin, being most common in the north.

Flight Season:

Late July to mid-October in Wisconsin.

Shading illustrates monthly percentages of the total flight season records for the species. Each flight season record is a unique date/location/observer combination where one or more adult or an exuvia was recorded (excludes nymphs). The actual number of flight season records for each month is shown in parentheses.

Flight seasons begin earlier in the southern part of the state, often by a week or more. Also, flight charts may not be accurate for rare species because of few data available.
View user-submitted photos

(Click on photos to enlarge)
Photo of Male black meadowhawk
Male black meadowhawk. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Immature male black meadowhawk
Immature male black meadowhawk. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Female black meadowhawk
Female black meadowhawk. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Immature female black meadowhawk
Immature female black meadowhawk. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Immature female black meadowhawk
Immature female black meadowhawk. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Black meadowhawk pair
Black meadowhawk pair. © Dan Jackson

This site is produced in conjunction with the Wisconsin Aquatic and Terrestrial Resources Inventory and sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The information presented on this site is subject to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' Legal Notices, Disclaimers, and Terms of Use.