Ruby Meadowhawk Dragonfly - Sympetrum rubicundulum
Order Odonata / Suborder Anisoptera /
Family: Libellulidae (Skimmers)
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Live adult dragonflies photographed in the wild at various North American locations.
Ruby Meadowhawk Female
Ruby Meadowhawk Female
The white on the underside of this dragonfly is a waxy / powdery coating most often seen in mature adults. It often covers the abdomen, thorax, and in some cases, wings. Such surfaces are referred to as pruinose. The word comes from the Latin prunsus, frosty, from pruna, hoarfrost.

Common skimmers (family Libellulidae) are large dragonflies with brightly colored bodies that are shorter than their wingspan. The wings often have bands or spots. In some species (such as this one, the ruby meadowhawk), the males and females are different colors. Often the male skimmers do not reach full color until many days after emergence. The short, squat naiads (immatures) populate shallower and warmer waters than other dragonfly families. They also tend to be more active and mature more rapidly.

The dragonflies in the genus Sympetrum are known as meadowhawks. They are some of the most common dragonflies in the meadows and fields near the west branch of the DuPage River in northern Illinois. Meadowhawks often bask with their wings held forward, with their abdomens pointing into the wind, much as a primitive weather vane. The meadowhawks are also, in my experience, some of the least wary of the Odonates - they will sometimes perch on me or even let me pick them up on a careful finger.

Ruby Meadowhawk Dragonfly
This female has 3 different types of mites hitchhiking under her thorax.

Ruby Meadowhawk Male
Late-summer males have pruinose abdomens (the white waxy coating underneath).

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Order Odonata: dragonflies and damselflies date back 300 million years, to the Carboniferous Period of the Paleozoic Era. These colorful, enchanting insects are revered second only to the butterflies in the popular psyche. Explore detailed close-up photographs of live, adult dragonflies and damselflies photographed in the wild.
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