Sympetrum illotum

Cardinal Meadowhawk is the common red-bodied meadowhawk in Monterey County. Males perch low over or adjacent to still or slow-moving water at ponds, canals, and small open streams. The eyes are red to go with an orange-red face, and they often perch expectantly, wings bowed forward, ready to launch at any moment.

Here are a male and a female in similar poses. Both sexes have uniformly colored abdomens: all-red in the males and all-brown in females. There are a number of other species of meadowhawks with red abdomens, including Red-veined which is rare here, but Variegated Meadowhawk has a pattern of colored dots on the abdomen. Note the orange wash to the base of the wings, more apparent on the male, that includes not only the forewing but also washes across the base of hind portion of each wing.
When a female visits the male's territory, he chases her down for copulation and ten ovipositing. The photo below shows a pair in tandem, with the female ovipositing by tapping the surface of the rivulet rapidly.
With good views, a good character on both sexes is the presence of two white elongated spots on the thorax. See how apparent they can be on this photo of a male (below). These spots are often hidden by the wings, especially when the wings are held forward, but their presence will rule out the possibility of something much rarer.
Sometimes, as in the view below, the wings are held far forward and obscure the thorax and the face.
But we'll use this view to illustrate another point. Look at the set of cells in the wing venation that are outlined in blue. These are the cells between the radial sector and the radial planate, and in this species [Cardinal Meadowhawk] there is just a single row of cells. On Red-veined Meadowhawk, much rarer in MTY, the middle part of the outlined set of cells have a two rows of cells. This, and other i.d. characters, are discussed in more detail in Manolis (2002).
Cardinal Meadowhawk has been encountered in MTY between February-September [extreme dates 2 Feb-12 Sep] at ponds and streams widely distributed in the lowlands and foothills [sea level to 1600' elev.]. The peak dates seems to be about April-August. The map shows a selection of known sites where the species has been recorded. It is likely present, in season, in suitable habitat anywhere in the county. In California, although primarily a foothill species, it has been found upslope to 7000' elev. Its flight season is generally March-October, although there are winter records from southern California (Manolis 2002).
Literature cited:
Manolis, T. 2003. Dragonflies and Damselflies of California. Calif. Natural Hist. Guide 72. Univ. of Calif., Berkeley, CA.
PHOTOS: All photos are © 2006 Don Roberson; all rights reserved.






Page created 14 Aug 2006