Minnesota Dragonfly

White-faced Meadowhawk

Sympetrum obtrusum

The White-faced Meadowhawk is a member of the genus Sympetrum. Males are mostly red and brown with a white face and black abdominal side spots. Females are usually yellow or red. Distinguishing between Meadowhawk species can be very difficult


Field Marks
  • Average adult size is approximately from 1.2 to 1.5 inches
  • White face
  • Eyes red over brown
  • Reddish brown thorax
  • Black legs
  • Red abdomen with black triangular side spots on segments 4 to 9
  • Red terminal appendages
  • Cerci slightly longer than the epiproct
  • Mostly clear wings with small amber patch at base and red stigma

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Field Marks
  • Pale white face with red over yellow eyes
  • Yellow-tan thorax
  • Yellow abdomen with black side triangles on segments 4 to 9
  • Small "M" shaped subgenital plates
  • Yellow-brown terminal appendages

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Natural History


The White-faced Meadowhawk is typically the most common Sympetrum throughout most of Minnesota. The white face helps to identify males from other similar red Meadowhawks. Immature and females do not have as distinctively white faces, making them more difficult to identify


Temporary or permanent marshy ponds, lakes, bogs, slow moving streams and forests


Mating takes place away from the water. Females lay eggs while flying or perched, alone or in tandem, by dropping them into shallow water, dried up pools and ponds or grassy fields that may flood in the spring. Eggs overwinter and hatch in spring when pools and ponds fill up. Males hover guard when not in tandem

Range Maps

Click on the icons above for this species' range maps

Click here for county and state checklists from Odonata Central.

Range maps and checklists courtesy of Odonata Central. Copyright © 2016 OdonataCentral. All Rights Reserved. Abbott, J.C. 2006-2018. OdonataCentral: An online resource for the distribution and identification of Odonata. Available at www.odonatacentral.org.