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Variegated Meadowhawk



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Sympetrum corruptum

Hagen, 1861


Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Libelluloidea
Family Libellulidae
Genus Sympetrum
Species corruptum (Hagen, 1861) [Mesothemis]


Identification

This is the most widespread mea dowhawk in the region. It is largely tan or gray with a pale face that is tan in young males and females but becomes red in mature males. The thorax has two oblique lateral white stripes, each with a distinct round yellow spot at their lower end. The yellow always remains visible, but the white becomes obscured in mature males. The wings are clear with yellow veins in the costal and subcostal areas. The pterostigma is tan bordered by yellow and red. The legs are dark brown except on their outer surfaces. The abdomen is grayish with a yellowish-orange middorsal stripe and orange rings apically on segments 3-7. A row of white spots are present laterally on segments 2-8 and segment 8-9 each have a large black spot dorsally. The orange color of the abdomen turns red in older males.

Size

Total length: 33-43 mm; abdomen: 23-29 mm; hindwing: 27-33 mm.

Similar Species

Striped Meadowhawk (S. pallipes ) and Cardinal Meadowhawk (S. illotum ) both lack black dorsally on abdominal segments 8-9. Striped Meadowhawk also lacks yellow spots laterally on the thorax.

Habitat

Ponds and slow streams, preferably with sandy or cobble bottoms, but occasionally including brackish waters.

Discussion

This species may be seen on the ground more than other meadowhawks. It will also readily perch on the tips of grass stems and tree branches. It can be numerous flying over roads, lawns, meadows, marshes and ponds. They are more abundant in the early spring and late fall months, but they have been taken every month in Texas. Variegated Meadowlark has been described as very adaptable, "...found in a greater variety of environments than any other." Mating occurs while perched on twigs, stems or other vegetation. Females lay eggs accompanied by males in the open water of ponds and lakes. Mass movements of this species have been reported on several occasions.

Distribution

Throughout U.S. and southern Canada; also Mexico south to Belize and Honduras.