Sympetrum danae
(Black Meadowhawk)

Order: Odonata
Suborder: Anisoptera
Order Description:
Family: Libellulidae
Family Description: Meadowhawk

   Naiad- This is a small naiad with a length of 9/16 to 5/8 inch (14 to 15.5 mm). It is mottled green and brown in color. The abdomen has several slender, slightly curved hooks along the top, and the last two abdominal segments have a single, rear-facing spine on each side. The naiads of this species and those of the Cherry-faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum internum) are extremely difficult to tell apart.
   Adult- This is a small dragonfly with a length of 1 to 1 ╝ inches (26 to 31 mm). It has no red coloration, unlike other Sympetrum species. Mature males are all black and have clear wings. Immature males are black and marked with yellow on each side of the thorax and along the top of the abdomen. Females are brown with golden brown and yellow markings, and their wings may be clouded with golden brown where they attach to the body.

The distribution of this dragonfly is circumboreal, which means it occurs throughout the Northern Hemisphere. In North America, it ranges from Alaska east to Hudson Bay, extending south into the U.S. to northern California east to Kentucky and Maine. It is also found across Siberia into northern Europe. In Idaho, it is found throughout the state.

This dragonfly occurs primarily near bogs, but also near marshy ponds and lakes.

Adult Flight Season:
Early June to Late August

   Naiad- Naiads feed on a wide variety of aquatic insects, such as mosquito larvae, other aquatic fly larvae, mayfly larvae, and freshwater shrimp. They will also eat very small fish and tadpoles.
   Adult- The dragonfly will eat almost any soft-bodied flying insect including mosquitoes, flies, small moths, mayflies, and flying ants or termites.

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 through August. They 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. Throughout its range, this species is associated with acidic waters, especially peat bogs. However, it is quite common in southeastern Idaho, where most groundwater is alkaline.

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.

Populations are widespread, abundant, and secure.
Status: Unprotected nongame species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S?

Corbet, P. S. 1999. Dragonflies: Behavior and Ecology of Odonata. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, USA, 829pp.

Logan, E. R. 1967. The Odonata of Idaho. Unpublished M. S. thesis. University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, USA, 105 pp.

Needham, J. G. and M. J. Westfall. 1955. Dragonflies of North America. University of California Press, Berkely, California, USA, 615 pp.

Paulson, D. R. 1999. Dragonflies of Washington. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle, Washington, USA, 32 pp.

Walker, E. M. and P. S. Corbet. 1975. The Odonata of Canada and Alaska, Vol. III. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 307 pp.

Written by Mark Lung and Stefan Sommer, 2001
Photos by Dennis Paulson, 2001
Design by Ean Harker, 2001.