Species: Sympetrum Costiferum
The Saffron-winged Meadowhawk
The Saffron-winged Meadowhawk (Sympetrum costiferum) is a dragonfly of the genus Sympetrum. It is found across northern and central United States and most of Canada, including a southern portion of the Northwest Territories. This species is usually found at a variety of ponds and lakes, especially poorly vegetated, shallow, sandy or gravelly habitats. It may be found occasionally in bogs.
Its abdomen is yellowish-brown, turning pale red at maturity in both sexes. Juveniles and females have gold (saffron) coloured wing stripes. Veins of males and females are reddish or orange. The sides of the abdomen are marked with black triangles. Some females have amber in basal areas of their wings. Legs are striped in black and yellow or red. Size: 35 mm . This species overlaps with and is difficult to distinguish from both the Ruby and White-faced Meadowhawks.
The naiads live in submerged vegetation. They do not actively pursue prey but wait for it to pass by, a strategy which affords them protection from other predators. Naiads emerge as adults at night. Adults generally fly from early June to the end of August, and possibly into October. The adults of this species hunt flying insects from perches on rocks or bare branches. The Latin name for this genus, Sympetrum, means "with rock" and refers to their habit of basking on rocks to absorb heat early in the day. This species has a high tolerance for salty or alkaline waters, thus are very abundant in southeastern Idaho where these conditions are common.
The female flies with the male still attached after mating (a position called "in tandem") and lays her eggs in lakes and ponds by dipping the tip her abdomen on the surface of the water.
Male Saffron-winged Meadowhawks can be mistaken, especially in photographs, for male Autumn Meadowhawks. The Saffron-winged Meadowhawk is larger, a characteristic not easily perceived in photos, the fore-edge of the wings, especially the leading three veins are colored, progressing from saffron-yellow in juveniles to bright red in mature males then fading in older specimens. In sihlouette, these two species differ as well, the Saffron-winged has a distinctly more gallant constriction / expansion at the beginning of the abdomen, followed by a narrowing and flare along the rest of the abdomen, giving the Saffron-winged a rather stallion-like elegance.