Sympetrum vicinum

Autumn Meadowhawk

Sympetrum vicinum, Autumn Meadowhawk

Family: Libellulidae

Length: typically 32-34 mm

The common name Autumn Meadowhawk refers to the late flight season of this species. While it may occasionally be encountered as early as late May or early June, it typically is the last species to emerge in West Virginia, and often is the last dragonfly seen on the wing. Often breeding pairs of this species are not observed until late August and later.

The previously used common name, Yellow-legged Meadowhawk, referred to a useful identification tool, the species yellow legs, but it is important to note that in older males the legs may be reddish brown in color.


Autumn Meadowhawk, Sympetrum vicinum, Yellow-Legged MeadowhawkAtypically for Meadowhawks, this species has a slender abdomen.

In mature males, look for a bright red abdomen with only minimal black markings. The legs will be yellow to reddish brown. The forehead will be red.

In females and immature males the forehead is light brown, the thorax yellow to gray, the legs yellowish, and the abdomen brown.

Writers have noted that this species changes color with cool weather, with the males red coloration giving way to orange, then brown, as temperatures drop.

The Autumn Meadowhawk lives in a variety of habitats, including marshes, bogs, ponds, lakes, and slow-moving streams.


Autumn Meadowhawk, Sympetrum vicinum, Yellow-Legged Meadowhawk
The slender abdomen is especially noticeable on this photo showing the coloration of the females and immature males.

Insects of West Virginia