Wisconsin Odonata Survey


Sympetrum rubicundulum  (Say, 1839)
Ruby 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: S4    

Distinguishing Characteristics:

This dragonfly has a yellow-brown face, brown to dark red abdomen with black lateral stripes, black legs and dark wing veins. The juvenile males' abdomens become red about in two weeks. The length of the body averages about 1.3 inches. Females are readily distinguished from other meadowhawks by their distinctive genitalia, but males are very difficult to separate from cherry-faced meadowhawks, which has led to numerious misidentifications between these species.

Description of Habitat/Range:

Found from the northern Great Plains to Maine, this species prefers temporary ponds and ponds and marshes or occasionally lakes, swamps, bogs, and stream backwaters. In Wisconsin, it has been reported from scattered sites throughout the state, but because of misidentifications with other meadowhawks, the limits of its range in Wisconsin are not well known.

Flight Season:

Adults have been documented in Wisconsin from late June to early September.

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 ruby meadowhawk
Male ruby meadowhawk. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Male ruby meadowhawk
Male ruby meadowhawk. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Close-up of ruby meadowhawk hamule
Close-up of ruby meadowhawk hamule. © Dan Jackson

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

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

Photo of Female abdomen tip of ruby meadowhawk showing subgenital plate
Female abdomen tip of ruby meadowhawk showing subgenital plate. © 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.