Ruby Meadowhawk

Sympetrum rubicundulum (Say, 1840)

(sym•PET•rum RU•bee•CUN•dyoo•lum)

My Latin dictionary suggests flushy, rufescent, and reddish.



Quick Identification Tips

  • Black triangles on sides of abdomen
  • Larger than White-faced or Cherry-faced (Great Plains only)
  • Thorax less red, often a smooth and gray look to it.
  • Ruby Meadowhawks in the prairie regions of the state, often have extensive wing coloration, so much so that they are often confused with Band-winged Meadowhawks.


One of the troublesome three, or what I like to call the obtrusum complex. In Minnesota, this threesome is comprised of Sympetrum obtrusum, Sympetrum rubicundulum, and Sympetrum internum. It is this knot of closely related look alikes that gives meadowhawks a bad name, at least by those who demand to identify every last thing down to species. In the northeast, matters get worse by the addition of Sympetrum janeae. Luckily it’s not as impossible to sort through these particular dragonflies; a little practice and some patience will get you through the worst of it.




Ruby Meadowhawks are distinguished by their larger size, their preference for more open prairie, and its more stately carriage when perching.


Similar Species

Ruby Meadowhawks are closely related to Cherry-faced Meadowhawks and Whitefaced Meadowhawks. Close observation of hamules and vulvar lamina is the one sure way to differentiate these species, though these three species are distinct enough to be separated in the field with experience, contrary to suggestions made in many guide books. So don't despair.


Ruby Meadowhawks that have extensive wing coloration can be confused with Band-winged Meadowhawks.


Minnesota Status

A transitional species. Fairly common in the southern 2/3 of the state. The northernmost county in which I have observed this species is Wilkin County. There are records for counties further north, but it becomes increasingly rare.


The western variant of this species, larger and with extensive wing coloration, predominates in Minnesota, especially in the prairie regions.


Natural History


Journal Notes


Hind wing: 27 – 29.5mm Total Length: 36 – 39mm (n=8)