Thursday, September 19, 2013

Dark-form White-faced Meadowhawk

I found this meadowhawk to be perplexing to identify. This dragonfly lacked the yellow legs of an Autumn Meadowhawk and the white face of a White-faced Meadowhawk. Nothing in my books matched. Turns out to be a dark-form, female White-faced Meadowhawk. I have seen several more in this phase since Scott King helped me with this identification.

Female White-faced Meadowhawks, then, are found in three forms. The “normal” one with which I was familiar is a yellowish dragonfly. This form is in the photo below, the lower animal in a wheel formation with a red male. (I have discussed dragonfly sex in a previous blog.) Female White-faced Meadowhawks also appear as andromorphs, pale versions of their males—I blogged about andromorphs last month. You would think selective pressure would produce a single version of the females so that the males might have little trouble with recognition. Looking somewhat like a male might have advantages if the females are often harassed by males. Looking dark and nondescript might help a female avoid predation.

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