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Bug News

Observations, factoids, funny clips, and lots of bugs and other nature related images.

5-Minute Read

Birds may get the attention and notoriety most of the time, but here’s one that’s not just for the birds. Insects have their own birds of prey – hawks! Beautiful, ferocious, and deadly in their own right, the brightly colored Meadowhawks of the insect world put their feathered brethren to shame when it comes to gorgeous colors and mystic. Not that I’m biased or anything…

These lovely creatures have been keeping me company in the garden and around the yard for maybe the last month or so. They are so pretty, but also very fast, with quick darting motions every time they see something. They have to be fast though, as just like the feathered animals they share a name with, they are predators of the sky and always looking for their next meal. Hopefully, many of the meals they are chasing down right now consist of the mosquitoes that are still a major nuisance at my house some days.

Meadowhawk dragonfly, Sympetrum sp., posing for a photo

Meadowhawks are a type of dragonfly in the genus Sympetrum, which is in the family Libellulidae, and are more commonly known as “Skimmers”. There are about 15 different species found throughout North America, nine of which have previously been recorded in Michigan (where I am right now) (check out the Michigan Odonata Survey’s website if you are interested in Michigan dragonflies and damselflies). Despite there being relatively few species of Meadowhawk found in my area, they can be difficult to tell apart. Distinguishing the exact species I have in my yard just from the photos I took is definitely a bit tricky – especially with the quality photos I take lol. I can tell that the object of my attention in these photos is a likely a male though. Males of many of the Meadowhawk species get the brighter, prettier, colors. Females in this group usually have much duller paler colors, presumably so they are more difficult to see by predators that are even larger than themselves.

I’ve actually been trying, rather unsuccessfully mind you, to get a halfway decent photo of the Meadowhawks in my garden for quite a while now. One of these lovely creatures finally took pity on me and just sat still for ages right in front of me waiting, and waiting, and waiting, for me to get my camera phone in order. And I still didn’t manage to get the best image! Ack! I’ll have to practice some more… I did finally, too late for this story though, figure out how to turn off the auto blur/ auto “fix” function that keeps making the dragonfly’s wings invisible… Maybe I’ll get the chance to supplement these photos with some new ones later. If I’m lucky enough to have one of the Meadowhawks take pity on me again and hold still for yet more photos. I definitely have a huge appreciation for photographers that produce all the amazingly gorgeous photos I often see online… Professional photographer I am not. I’ll stick to writing 😄

Meadowhawk dragonfly, with invisible wings thanks to auto features

Want to learn more about the six-legged Meadowhawk (and see some better photos)? Check out these resources:

Meadowhawk dragonfly, Sympetrum sp.
Possibly Saffron-winged Meadowhawk, S. costiferum
Possibly Saffron-winged Meadowhawk, S. costiferum


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Written by an entomologist for the enjoyment of all... The goal is to post something new every Wednesday and on the weekends, so stay tuned!