Sympetrum obtrusum
(White-Faced Meadowhawk)

Order: Odonata
Suborder: Anisoptera
Order Description:
Family: Libellulidae
Family Description: Meadowhawk

   Naiad- This is a small naiad with a length of 5/8 inch (16 mm). It is mottled green and brown in color. The abdomen has several slender, slightly curved hooks along the top, and the last two abdominal segments have a single, rear-facing spine on each side. The naiads of this species and those of the Red-Veined Meadowhawk (Sympetrum madidum) and the Striped Meadowhawk (Sympetrum pallipes) are extremely difficult to tell apart.
   Adult- This is a small dragonfly with a length of 1 1/4 to 1 9/16 inches (31 to 39 mm). Mature males have a yellowish white face, a dark thorax, and a shiny red abdomen marked with black triangles along each side. The wings are clear but may be clouded with yellowish brown where they attach to the body. The legs may appear yellowish and have black spines. Females and immature males are olive to golden brown and are marked similarly.

This species is found from the Northwest Territories of Canada east to Nova Scotia, extending south into the U.S. to Utah, Kansas, and Kentucky. In Idaho, it occurs throughout the state though less commonly in the southeast part of the state.

This dragonfly can be found near bogs, lakes, ponds, and ditches. They appear to prefer small, stagnant ponds.

Adult Flight Season:
Early July to mid-October

   Naiad- Naiads feed on a wide variety of aquatic insects, such as mosquito larvae, other aquatic fly larvae, mayfly larvae, and freshwater shrimp. They will also eat very small fish and tadpoles.
   Adult- The dragonfly will eat almost any soft-bodied flying insect including mosquitoes, flies, small moths, mayflies, and flying ants or termites.

The naiads live in debris on the bottom of bogs, lakes, and ponds, and have a high tolerance for acidic waters. They do not actively pursue prey but wait for it to pass by, a strategy which affords them protection from other predators. The naiads emerge as adults at night. Adults generally fly from early July to mid-October. The adults of this species hunt flying insects from perches on rocks or bare branches. The Latin name for this genus, Sympetrum, means "with rock" and refers to their habit of basking on rocks to absorb heat early in the day.

The female flies with the male still attached after mating (a position called "in tandem") and lays her eggs in bogs, lakes, and ponds by dipping the tip her abdomen on the surface of the water.

Populations are widespread, abundant, and secure.
Status: Unprotected nongame species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S?

Corbet, P. S. 1999. Dragonflies: Behavior and Ecology of Odonata. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, USA, 829pp.

Logan, E. R. 1967. The Odonata of Idaho. Unpublished M. S. thesis. University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, USA, 105 pp.

Needham, J. G. and M. J. Westfall. 1955. Dragonflies of North America. University of California Press, Berkely, California, USA, 615 pp.

Paulson, D. R. 1999. Dragonflies of Washington. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle, Washington, USA, 32 pp.

Walker, E. M. and P. S. Corbet. 1975. The Odonata of Canada and Alaska, Vol. III. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 307 pp.

Written by Mark Lung and Stefan Sommer, 2001
Photos by Dennis Paulson, 2001
Design by Ean Harker, 2001.