Saturday, July 23, 2011

Hunting Meadowhawk Dragonflies

Meadowhawk dragonfly - photo by Shelley Banks
Close-up of Meadowhawk on G's garden stake  © SB 
Several varieties of dragonflies are flitting through our summer grasses and flowers. I've been trying to identify the two (or three?) species in my backyard and my friend Anne's garden.

One of our most common dragonflies is about two inches long and orange-brown — although I've also seen a brilliant red one at Anne's place. (Different species? Or is one colour male, and the other female?) This dragonfly's wings don't fan straight out at the sides, like the Big Blue Darner in the post below, but instead, sweep down and forward towards its head.

Based on the size, markings and wings, these look like Meadowhawk dragonflies — perhaps the Cherry-faced Meadowhawk, whose females are, in fact, orange-brown, while males are bright red? (If they are so abundant in Montana —  the most widespread in the state — why not Saskatchewan, too?)

As the name implies, Meadowhawks are often found hunting in grassy areas. Like our backyards, it would seem.

More photos follow, so that readers can play entomology detective, too.

First, the only reasonable shot I have of the red one. Not crisply sharp, but it gives some indication of how strong the colour is.

Meadowhawk dragonfly - photo by Shelley Banks
Red Meadowhawk in Anne's garden. © SB 
The next two pictures, and the one at the top, are of the orange-brown Meadowhawks hunting — or, what these really look like, too me — sipping nectar or dead-bug juice from plants and stakes. (The stakes surround G's vegetable/herb garden; yellow tape laced around each creates a barrier intended to keep Ginger/dog out.)

Meadowhawk dragonfly - photo by Shelley Banks
Meadowhawk in Anne's garden  © SB

Meadowhawk dragonfly - photo by Shelley Banks
Wings and wing shadow of Meadowhawk Dragonfly © SB  
What I love about the picture above is that the shadow from the dragonfly's wings is more clearly visible than the gossamer wings themselves!


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