Sympetrum obtrusum

White-Faced Meadowhawk

Sympetrum obtrusum, White-Faced Meadowhawk

Family: Libellulidae

Length: typically 32-34 mm


The various Meadowhawks are often hard to tell apart, but if you have a mature male specimen of Sympetrum obtrusum, there is no mistaking it with other species: the face is bright white, a trait not shared with others in the genus. Other traits of the mature male White-Faced Meadowhawk include a bright red abdomen with black triangular markings toward the rear. Males also have a small amber-colored patch at the base of the wings.

White-Faced Meadowhawk, Sympetrum obtrusum mating

Females and immature males begin life with a yellow abdomen. In females this gradually fades to olive-brown or even a dull red color. The females and immature males begin life with a yellow face.

The bad news is that until a Sympetrum obtrusum has developed its white face, it is utterly impossible to tell it apart from the Cherry-Faced and Ruby Meadowhawks found in West Virginia.

In West Virginia this species is not as common as the Autumn Meadowhawk or Ruby Meadowhawk, though it may be locally common. It often lives near forests, and may be found at ponds, swamps, acidic bogs, and even slow streams. The White-Faced Meadowhawks have a long flight season, stretching from early summer through fall.

White-Faced Meadowhawk, Sympetrum obtrusum face
The face of the mature White-Faced Meadowhawk is bright white, not the yellowish-brown found on its near-relatives. 


White-Faced Meadowhawk, Sympetrum obtrusum mating wheel
Another mating pair photographed in late August. The male's basal amber wing patch is just barely visible in this photo.

Insects of West Virginia