Sympetrum internum
(Cherry-faced 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 Black Meadowhawk (Sympetrum danae) are extremely difficult to tell apart.
   Adult- This is a small dragonfly, with a length of 7/8 to 1 7/16 inches (21 to 36 mm). Mature males are bright red on the face and the top of the abdomen. The thorax is dark brownish black and unmarked, and the sides of the abdomen are marked with black triangles. The wings may be entirely clear or partially clouded with golden brown where they attach to the body, and the veins may appear reddish. Immature males and females are marked similarly, but the thorax is brownish or olive green.

This species is found from Alaska east to Hudson Bay, extending south through the U.S. from California east to Missouri and Pennsylvania. It occurs throughout Idaho.

This dragonfly can be found near marshy ponds and lakes, and near slow streams.

Adult Flight Season:
Early July to early October

   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 debris on the bottom of ponds, lakes, and streams. 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 July to October. Hunting occurs from perches on rocks or bare branches. This species has a high tolerance for cold climates, and is found as far north as the Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories of Canada. 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.

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.