Band-winged Meadowhawk

Common Name: Band-winged Meadowhawk.

Scientific Name: Sympetrum Semicinctum.

What to look for?  Red dragonfly! The male Band-winged Meadowhawk is easily recognized by its bright red abdomen and tail. The inner third of the forewing is amber. The inner half of the hindwing, from the point of attachment to the wing notch, or nodus, is also amber. All of the wing veins are black. The females are a lighter orange/yellow.

Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? The Band-winged Meadowhawk is most active in late spring to early fall. Look for them around the water’s edge. They will perch frequently on tips of low vegetation.

How big are they? The Band-winged Meadowhawk averages around one inch in length. And their wingspan is also approximately two inches.

What are their flight patterns? Band-winged Meadowhawks and other dragonflies are expert fliers. They can fly straight up and down, hover like a helicopter and even mate mid-air. If they can’t fly, they’ll starve because they only eat prey they catch while flying. Band-winged Meadowhawks are active daytime fliers. They stay low and often fly among the sedges, rushes and marsh grasses along the Carillon Stonegate Pond’s edge.

How else do they behave? They are voracious predators of small flying insects such as flies and mosquitoes. Bank-winged Meadowhawks will move quickly in flight, but then hover and perch. Repeating over and over again.

What’s for dinner? Adult Band-winged Meadowhawks will eat almost any small, soft bodied insects, including mosquito's, mayfly's, ants, flies, and moths. During their larval stage, Band-winged Meadowhawks feed on a variety of other insect larvae, such as mosquitoes, and mayfly's.

Where do they take up residence? The Band-winged Meadowhawk is found throughout United States except for southernmost states and southern Canada. They can most often be found in or around shallow, weedy ponds and lakes, meadows, and marshes and bogs with some sort of water flow and where there are weeds and tall grasses.

When and where do they breed and nest? Mating usually takes place away from the water. Males and females fly in tandem to the water where females lay eggs by dipping their abdomen into shallow water among plants emerging from the water at the edges of ponds and in marshes.

Where do they migrate? The adult Band-winged Meadowhawk does migrate south in the fall as do most dragonflies. And, with an expected lifespan of less than one year, it is most likely a one-way trip. But, with their larvae remaining, the next generation will take its southern migration the following fall.

Do they make any interesting sounds? No.

Interesting Facts About the Band-winged Meadowhawk:

  • Dragonflies were some of the first winged insects to evolve, some 300 million years ago and had wingspans of up to two feet.

  • There are more than 5,000 known species of dragonflies, all of which (along with damselflies) belong to the order Odonata, which means “toothed one” in Greek and refers to the dragonfly’s serrated teeth.

  • In their larval stage, which can last up to two years, dragonflies are aquatic and eat just about anything—tadpoles, mosquitoes, fish, other insect larvae and even each other.

  • At the end of its larval stage, the dragonfly crawls out of the water, then its exoskeleton cracks open and releases the insect’s abdomen, which had been packed in like a telescope. Its four wings come out, and they dry and harden over the next several hours to days.

  • Dragonflies are very efficient hunters and catch their insect prey by grabbing it with their feet.

  • Some adult dragonflies live for only a few weeks while others live up to a year.

  • Nearly all of the dragonfly’s head is eye, so they have incredible vision that encompasses almost every angle except right behind them.

  • Dragonflies, which eat insects as adults, are a great control on the mosquito population, consuming up to hundreds of mosquitoes per day.

  • Hundreds of dragonflies of different species will gather in swarms, either for feeding or migration.

For more information on the Band-winged Meadowhawk and sources of information used in this blog (these are the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit Odonata Central, Smithsonian Institute, Minnesota Dragonfly, Wisconsin Odonata Survey and University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Field Station

The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.

 

Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!