Wisconsin Odonata Survey


Sympetrum ambiguum  (Rambur, 1842)
Blue-faced Meadowhawk

Libellulidae, Skimmer Family
"Most Wanted" Species

First recorded in Wisconsin in (2012) the blue-faced meadowhawk is one of nine species of meadowhawks to look for here. Meadowhawks are small skimmers that are often abundant in summer and autumn. Males of most species are reddish while females and tenerals are brown to orange-yellow. Identification of a number of species can be tricky, often requiring use of a 10X loupe to examine the hamules of males and the subgenital plates of females in the hand.


Global: G5     Wisconsin: SNA    

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Although meadowhawks are a tough group to identify, blue-faced meadowhawks are relatively easy to distinguish. Mature males are our only red dragonflies with blue to turquoise faces. Even those with whitish faces will have eyes with some hint of blue. Females are mostly brown and similar to other female meadowhawks, but with some notable differences that singly or in combination will rule out other species: eyes often have some blue or bluish-gray; legs are tan, not black or striped; the black markings on the abdomen are more ring-like than the markings of other species; and the gray and brown-striped thorax is unique among meadowhawks.

Description of Habitat/Range:

Pools that are usually temporary and often at least partially shaded, especially those in river flood plains. Also occurs in permanent ponds, marshes, swamps, woodland pools outside of floodplains, and rarely slow streams. This species is associated with wooded habitats to a greater extent than other meadowhawks. It is common in the southeastern and south central United States generally south of the Upper Midwest (a few scattered records in Michigan). Adults were observed in Wisconsin for the first time in Milwaukee County in 2012 (Luhman 2012). Not known to breed here. Please report any evidence of breeding (pairs in wheel, ovipositing females, tenerals, nymphs, or exuviae) to the Wisconsin Odonata Survey.

Flight Season:

Three observations in Milwaukee County were all in July. In states just to our south it has been observed from June to October.

Reference: Luhman, E. 2012. First report of blue-faced meadowhawk (Sympetrum ambiguum) for Wisconsin. ARGIA 24(3):23.

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.
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