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Orange Meadowhawk (Sympetrum spp.)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Orange Meadowhawk

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Image Credit: Elizabeth and Desmond L. taken in Bon Echo Provincial Park, ON
Full-sized image of the Orange-Meadowhawk-Skimmer Thumbnail image of the Orange-Meadowhawk-Skimmer
Image Credit: Raya A. from New Canaan, CT
Full-sized image #2 of the Orange-Meadowhawk-Skimmer Thumbnail image #2 of the Orange-Meadowhawk-Skimmer
Image Credit: Gary R., taken at the Green Mountain Audubon Nature Center in Huntington, VT
Full-sized image #3 of the Orange-Meadowhawk-Skimmer Thumbnail image #3 of the Orange-Meadowhawk-Skimmer

A long abdomen and bright orange body contrasts with the natural habitat of Orange Meadowhawks making it easier to spot them in the wild.

Updated: 07/07/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
A boldly colored genus of dragonflies, Orange Meadowhawks can be found on grasses and reeds in ponds, streams and lakes. They also venture away from water sources and have been spotted in drier places like fields and meadows. Adult Meadowhawks eat small insects like flies, mosquitoes, moths, ants, and mayflies. Naiads (juveniles) are aquatic, remaining underwater after hatching where they feed on small crustaceans, aquatic insects, and detritus. They look nothing like adults dragonflies. Naiads lack wings, have short alligator-like bodies, and large pincers for jaws that they use while constantly eating. When they have developed enough to molt, naiads leave the water and come on land. After molting again, they develop into winged adults.

The presence of Dragonflies in a body of water is usually a sign of a clean, healthy ecosystem. Naiads are somewhat sensitive to pollution, which can cripple their ability to mature into adults. Sighting many adults reflects a clean and healthy breeding area.

General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Odonata
        Family: Libellulidae
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          Genus: Sympetrum
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            Species: spp.
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Sympetrum spp.
Category: Dragonfly or Damselfly
Size (Adult; Length): 35mm to 72mm (1.37" to 2.83")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: orange, black, red, green, yellow
Descriptors: forward, clear, wings, stripes, marks, face, flying, bands, smudge

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 35mm (1.4in) and 72mm (2.8in)
Lo: 35mm
Md: 53.5mm
Hi: 72mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Orange Meadowhawk may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Orange Meadowhawk. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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