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Black Meadowhawk

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Sympetrum danae

Sulzer, 1776

Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Libelluloidea
Family Libellulidae
Genus Sympetrum
Species danae (Sulzer, 1776) [Libellula]


This is a small, black meadowhawk that is uncommon in northern New Mexico. The face is pale yellow in young males and females. It turns black in mature males. The thorax is yellowish with two or three small pale spots enveloped by ladder-like black markings laterally. The wings are clear with a pale costal vein that darkens with age. There is a small spot of amber basally and sometimes at the nodus. The pterostigma and legs are black. Young individuals have a yellow abdomen and a black lateral stripe. The abdominal segments q uickly (more so in males ) become black with a row of pale dorsolateral spots. Females have a short, spout-like ovipositor.


Total length: 21-23 mm; abdomen: 19-24 mm; hindwing: 21-26 mm.

Similar Species

This is the only dark meadowhawk in the region and the only one with a black face (in older males). Female Seaside Dragonlet (Erythrodiplax berenice ) has dark markings on a pale face and has a distinctly longer ovipositor. The similar small pennants (Celithemis ) have more extensive basal wing markings and amber throughout these areas.


Marshy areas, ponds, lakes and sometimes saline ponds.


This ubiquitous northern species is uncommon in New Mexico. It behaves similarly to other meadowhawks, perching lower on vegetation. They forage in open fields and males are not territorial when away from the water. This species also ranges from Europe to Japan.


Canada and northern U.S.