Sympetrum illotum “Cardinal Meadowhawk” Libellulidae

Washington Park Arboretum, Seattle, WA
May 9, 2016
Robert Niese

There are quite a few species of red dragons in the PNW and they can be pretty tricky to ID. The redder individuals tend to be males, and, as they mature they often lose all other markings that might facilitate identification. This species is most easily distinguished by the two white dots present on the lower sides of its abdomen (barely visible here). Even in very red, healthy, mature adults, the lower margins of these white dots are usually still visible. Generally, Cardinal Meadowhawks can also be distinguished from other red meadowhawks by their reddish legs, diffuse yellow-bronze wings, and black markings at the base of the wings.


Sympetrum corruptum “Variegated Meadowhawk” Libellulidae

Blue Mountain National Recreation Area, MT
May 13, 2016
Robert Niese

As its name might suggest, these dragonflies are quite variable. So much so, that I’m questioning this ID (corrections would be very much appreciated). For more info on how to identify PNW odonates, check out this field key from the Slater Museum of Natural HistoryS. corruptum is a relatively common dragon found throughout much of northern North America near boggy meadows, swamps or ponds. During migration, however, it can be found wandering through just about any habitat from Honduras to Mongolia. Dragonflies are impressive migrators and some species can regularly travel 100 miles in a single day.