Wisconsin Odonata Survey


Sympetrum obtrusum  (Hagen, 1867)
White-faced 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: S5    

Distinguishing Characteristics:

The mature male of this red and black species is distinctive because of its bright white face. However, females and juveniles can have yellowish, greenish, or brown faces and can be very difficult to separate from other species. The length of this dragonfly varies from 1.2 to 1.5 inches. This species is very similar to the cherry-faced meadowhawk, separated by their genitalia. The white-faced meadowhawk is usually slightly smaller than the cherry-faced meadowhawk.

Description of Habitat/Range:

This species is common throughout Canada and United States, except for the south. It is usually found at ponds, lakes, marshes, bogs, and slow streams. It is abundant in the last half of summer and the autumn throughout Wisconsin.

Flight Season:

Typical flight season is late June 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 white-faced meadowhawk
Male white-faced meadowhawk. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Intermediate male white-faced meadowhawk
Intermediate male white-faced meadowhawk. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Immature male white-faced meadowhawk
Immature male white-faced meadowhawk. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Mature brown-form female white-faced meadowhawk
Mature brown-form female white-faced meadowhawk. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Mature red-form female white-faced meadowhawk
Mature red-form female white-faced meadowhawk. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Immature female white-faced meadowhawk
Immature female white-faced meadowhawk. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Mating pair of white-faced meadowhawks
Mating pair of white-faced meadowhawks. © Dan Jackson

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