Thursday, October 4, 2012

Variegated Meadowhawk

The Variegated Meadowhawk is an interesting species for a number of reasons.  First, it's color pattern, particularly on the abdomen, sets it apart from all our other meadowhawks and is the reason for its name.  Second, it is one of a small number of dragonflies known to migrate.  Large flights heading south in the fall have been observed along the west coast.  Betsy and I have seen mature pairs laying eggs as early as March 9 in southern Oregon, when no sign of emergence was apparent.  These individuals had probably migrated north from overwintering sites in the southwest.

Here in the Anacortes area, we see Variegated Meadowhawks on a hit-or-miss basis.  We never know where one will show up, and there is no location in our area where they are seen consistently.  We've seen them in a variety of different situations, including Washington Park in mid November.

Yes, the Variegated Meadowhawk is an oddball – but it's always a delight to see with its wonderful colors and patterns.  This summer we saw one at Smiley's Bottom for the first time.  It was a young male that was still mostly yellow – it will become reddish with age.  Also note the white stripes on the side of the thorax, with a yellow dot at their lower end.  With age these stripes will fade away, but the yellow dots will remain.  Also, notice the lavender color of the eyes.  The eyes will turn increasingly reddish with age, but there will always be a lavender component to the color.

A young Variegated Meadowhawk at Smiley's Bottom.

Here the meadowhawk tilts its head to point the dorsal fovea to the left for a better view in that direction.  Notice the lavender color of the eye, and the nice array of pseudopupils.

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