Striped Meadowhawks are very common, small (32-36mm) members of the skimmer family (Libellulidae). In shallow, weedy, stagnant ponds with low water quality Striped Meadowhawks and Blue Dashers (Pachydiplax longipennis) may be the only species flying, and may be present in large numbers. Sympetrum pallipes seem to be more tolerant of human presence than most dragonflies, and they are by far the most likely ones to land on me or my net.
They are also, again along with Blue Dashers, the most likely to end up as bycatch when I’m trying to net another species. They can be so abundant at some of the ponds I frequent that any random swing of the net is liable to capture one. And they are very territorial, which often leads them to attack a dragonfly just as I’m trying to net it.
The eponymous complete, off-white, stripes on the thorax are distinctive and diagnostic for adults. Immature specimens of other species may have striping along the side of the thorax, but no other meadowhawks in our region have light stripes on top of the thorax. Male Sympetrum pallipes are a dark, reddish brown, while females are a lighter brown. Both sexes have black bars on the sides of the abdomen. And the stigma is dark in the center and becomes pale at the edges.
The larvae are burrowers in the silty bottom of their home, and ambush prey from that location. Striped Meadowhawks can be found region wide, and they fly from June to November.
Sympetrum means ‘with rock’ in Latin and refers to the habit of many species in the genus of basking on rocks. The species epithet pallipes means ‘pale-footed’, which isn’t really accurate west of the Cascades, since in wetter climates the legs tend to be all black.
Habitat- Slow and still water with abundant emergent vegetation and mud bottom
Range- Region wide
Eats- Whatever it can subdue
Flight Season- June to mid November