Sympetrum costiferum
(Saffron-Winged Meadowhawk)

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

   Naiad- This is a small naiad with a maximum length of 3/4 inch (18 mm). It is mottled green and brown in color. There are slender, slightly curved hooks along the top of the abdomen, and the last two abdominal segments have a single, rear-facing spine on each side.
   Adult- This is a small dragonfly with a length of 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches (31 to 37 mm). The abdomen is quite slender. Mature males are brownish red. The wings are translucent golden yellow. Mature females are golden yellow. Immature males and females are a combination of golden yellow and light brown, and only the leading edges of the wings are yellow.

This species is found from southern British Columbia east to the Atlantic, extending south in the U.S. from California east to New York. In Idaho, it is found throughout the state at lower elevations.

This dragonfly can be found near bogs, 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 to the end of August, and possibly into October. The adults of this species 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. This species has a high tolerance for salty or alkaline waters, thus are very abundant in southeastern Idaho where these conditions are common.

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.

HTML by Marty Peck, 2001.