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Saffron-winged Meadowhawk

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Sympetrum costiferum

Hagen, 1861

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


This primarily northern, reddish species has been reported as far south as southeastern New Mexico. Young males and females are yellow. The face is hairy and pale white or olivaceous with a darker green labrum. The thorax is brownish-red in older males. The dark markings seen on s utures of young individuals become obscured with age. Young males and females have golden yellow diffused along the costal margin of each wing covering red veins. This color lessens or disappears in mature males, but may become diffuse covering nearly all of hindwing in females. The legs are pale yellow externally and dark medially. The abdomen is distinctly spindle-shaped, narrowed basally then widening slightly at segments 5 and 6 and narrowing again distally. The abdomen is red in mature adults, with a prominent black stripe on each lateral carina. Segment 8 and 9 are black dorsally.


Total length: 31-37 mm; abdomen: 22-26 mm; hindwing: 25-28 mm.

Similar Species

Yellow-legged Meadowhawk (S. vicinum ) has entirely yellow legs, is more slender bodied and has amber restricted to the extreme wing bases only.


Shallow marshes, bays and lagoons of lakes and reservoirs, including saline ones.


This is a late fall species. The only record of this species in the south-central United States is from Eddy County, New Mexico. It is apparently more tolerant of saline waters than other meadowhawks. This species is another one that commonly perches on the ground. Females generally lay eggs accompanied by the male. One author reported seeing thousands of this species perched on telephone wires and I have seen the same behavior in other meadowhawks.


Canada and northern U.S. south to New Mexico.