An ode to an Ode

//An ode to an Ode

An ode to an Ode

That’s Ode as in Odonata, commonly known as dragonflies.

It is becoming more and more common at this time of year for serious birders, now that the birds are going quiet and skulking, to switch allegiances for a couple of hot months and go “ticking” dragonflies. Jolly interesting it is, too, but I don’t think I shall be starting an ode list any time soon. Nevertheless, they are fine things to see and a pleasant intellectual challenge to try to identify them. Keeps the brain ticking over and hopefully delays dementia for another year or two. A couple of days ago, we came across this fellow wandering amongst clover and other meadow grasses – but what is is?

We have plenty of insect field guides and huge tome the size of a breeze-block that covers pretty well all the North American insects but … no luck.So I consulted Mark, my Ode guru (a birder who goes astray in summer) and it seems that one reason it is hard to put a name to is that this is an immature or juvenile form of an adult that is actually bright screaming scarlet – of course it’s the red adults that are in the books we have. Add to that, the fact that the immatures are almost identical for three separate species and life becomes tricky.

Anyway, I am advised that there is a 70% chance that this is a White-faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum obtrusum). To quote (Wikipedia) “Juvenile White-faced Meadowhawks are almost indistinguishable from the Ruby and Cherry-faced Meadowhawks. The three species habitats also overlap extensively. White-faces can be identified by having white faces, as the name implies, at maturity.” There is a nice photo of the red adult, with other information, at

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By |2014-07-09T16:43:42+00:00July 9th, 2014|insects|2 Comments


  1. Jean Harwood 2014-07-09 at 17:27 - Reply

    “…amongst clover and meadow grasses” ie the grassy-ish area outside the back door that we laughingly refer to as “lawn”

  2. Richard 2014-07-09 at 18:35 - Reply

    What do you mean “lawn” … it’s now an official urban meadow

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