Distinctive yet varied

Often the first and last dragonfly species of each year, assuming they don’t survive right on through a mild winter.  Not too large and not too small.  Boisterous and benign.

A variegated meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum) perched on a dead leaf (2009_02_15_009740)

At White Rock Lake, most of the variegated meadowhawks (Sympetrum corruptum) I see look like the one above[1]: a drab shade reminiscent of Brown 25[2].

And yet if I drive just a short distance north to the Lake Lewisville Environmental Learning Area, this same species becomes altogether a different animal.

A variegated meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum) resting on a leaf (2009_10_18_032478)

This one is darker with shades of crimson.  Still, the abdominal pattern is unmistakable, if not confusing for its vastly different color scheme.

Variegated meadowhawks (Sympetrum corruptum) preparing to mate (2009_10_18_032637)

An about-to-mate pair.  The female in the background is mostly blue while the male is mostly red[3].

A pair of variegated meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum) mating on the ground (2009_10_18_032662)

A different mating pair with a male (left) who is mostly red and a female (right) who is a combination of blue and brown.

Were it not for the behind-the-eye pattern and the abdominal pattern, both of which are evident no matter the colors involved, it would be easy to assume several different species are involved when in fact only one variegated species is seen.

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Notes:

[1] I have seen this species sporting other colors at WRL, including green, red, blue, and various combinations, though the Brown 25 model seems dominant.

[2] Brown 25 is a reference to one of the Uranus Corporation commercials from the 1974 movie The Groove Tube.  You can see the Brown 25 commercial here.

[3] For the mating pairs in the last two photos, it seems one could assume the males are almost always red.  That would be wrong.  I saw other pairs where the male was brown, green, blue, or a combination of colors, though the red males seemed most abundant at LLELA.

3 thoughts on “Distinctive yet varied”

  1. Love the dragonfly photos! S. corruptum is a gorgeous ode and those eyes are simply amazing. We only get the red ones here, so I’m thrilled to learn that they can have some other colors too. Fun!

  2. Tis the season of dragonflies, come around again. (It only seems a few weeks ago that last year’s dragonflies appeared on your blog. Time, like the dragonflies themselves, is flying!) Here we always seem to see them in greater numbers in the warm months of Autumn.

    The red ones in your photographs look as though they’ve been banded with polished coral. Magnificent, that combination of spidery filigree, lapidary opalescence and transparency. Thanks for sharing.

    Jason, please post more from your Mexican trip soon. I’m hooked!

  3. The body of the dragonfly in the first photo looks a lot like the twig in the lower left corner.

    I never would have guessed that these are all the same species. I have to admit, dragonflies are a bit overwhelming for me when it comes to ID – so many!

    That red is really striking!

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