Sympetrum corruptum
Variegated Meadowhawk is a very colorful meadowhawk with behaviors typical for the
group: it sits on perches near or over water, dashes out after prey or females, and often returns to the same perch. 
photo (above) 23 July 2006 Salinas
Adult males have a variegated pattern on the abdomen, dominated by the black-rimmed white series of spots. Adults males have a cherry-red face. A view from above (photo above) shows the intricately patterned abdomen, ending with two dark blue spots and then yellow terminal appendages.

n the shot (below) the male is chewing on a bit of prey. Note also the pterostigma (colored small spots on the leading edge of the outer wing) that are colored in the center but pale at each end.

photo (above & below) 23 July 2006 Salinas
Adult females (left) have a similar pattern but less bright, with grays and oranges replacing the richer reds of the male. Both male and female have a characteristic thoracic pattern of two white stripes that end in a yellow dot. 

Photo (left) 15 Aug 2006 Heenan Lake, Alpine Co.

A close-up view of the upper right wing shows the double row of cells between the radial sector and the radial planate (illustrated above by blue outlines), which separates this species from Striped Meadowhawk S. pallipes and Cardinal Meadowhawk S. illotum, both of which are also widespread in Monterey County.
In the flight shot (above), a younger male patrols a territory over a small pond. Its colors have not yet brightened up. In MTY, this species seems to prefer open country: wastewater treatment ponds, expanses of shallow, reedy ponds in open agricultural land, or coastal marshes. Wandering individuals, though, may turn up in backyards (for example, Marina; Steve Rovell) or the outer coast (e.g., Rocky Shores, Pacific Grove, 8 Oct 2006; Rita Carratello). Presumably the species is widespread in Monterey County, and wanderers could turn up anywhere.

This is a common and widespread species throughout the United States and s. Canada, and it undertakes migrations annually. Early emergers from Mexico or the southern U.S. fly north to breed, and then another set of late emergers in the north fly south again in autumn to breed as a second generation. Because of these movements, 'fall-outs' are sometimes encountered (Manolis 2003).

I like the shot below because it almost looks like the meadowhawk itself is encased in the same spider webs that cover the weed stem on which it perches . . .

Photo (above) 23 July 2006 near Salinas
Photo (below) 24 Sep 2006 Carmel River mouth
The map shows a selection of sites at which Variegated Meadowhawk has been observed. It is likely widespread throughout the county in open country.

This is a species that flies almost year-round. In MTY there are two January records [22 Jan 2003 Ft. Ord (R.J. Adams) & 26 Jan 1938 Hastings Nat. Hist. Resv. (#HNHR)]. These might be considered "late" dates — perhaps at the end of the previous years' flight season — because the next date is not until May (4 May 1941; #HNHR). After May there are consistent records into early November [6 Nov 1938 #HNHR]. Elsewhere in California flight dates span all months, with peaks in spring and fall (Manolis 2003).

Literature cited:
  • Manolis, T. 2003. Dragonflies and Damselflies of California. Univ. of Calif. Press, Berkeley.

Web resources:
Major identification web sites with much information on California odes include:

For sites with excellent photos to compare for identification or to simply enjoy, see: Many of these sites have links to other useful pages. Kathy Biggs's site is particularly useful in her selection of links.

All photos © Don Roberson 2007


Page created 25 Feb 2007