Friday, September 16, 2011

Variegated Meadowhawk

On 13 September 2011, Erika and I found this Variegated Meadowhawk in the Carleton College Arboretum prairie. The harlequin tail amazed me! Over the following two days a high pressure cell brought us cool air, below freezing with snow showers in northern Minnesota, in the upper 30s F here. This dragonfly probably migrated ahead of the weather. Many western individuals fly east in the fall towards the Atlantic coast and Florida (Mead 2003); others head south towards Honduras and even eastern Asia (Idaho Digital Atlas). Many breed in their wintering areas. Young emerge in the spring and, often within 24 hours, begin flying north. In their summer range, they again go through their life cycle. Thus most fall migrants tend to be immature individuals, as is the one in my photo, while many spring migrants are adults. Apparently these dragonflies use the sun's position to navigate (Talk About Wildlife). In his website, Jeff Pippen writes "this species should be called 'variable meadowhawk' as it seems to be variable in size, color pattern and exact range!" Variegated Meadowhawks are often seen migrating with Common Green Darners, which we also noted nearby (see lower photo). 

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