Currently viewing the category: "Dragonflies and Damselflies"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: band -winged meadowhawk?
Location: Auburn, NJ
July 22, 2012 9:34 am
I’m finding this dragonfly more difficult to identify, as the red (female?) seems to get the most attention in the pics I’ve found to compare to. I think of aviator sunglasses when I see this kind of banding, know I have seen them each summer the past few years.
Still not sure though…but best guess?
Signature: Creek Keeper

What’s That Dragonfly???

Dear Creek Keeper,
We often have trouble with Dragonfly identifications.  It is the male Band Winged Meadowhawk that is red, not the female.  In our opinion, the abdomen markings do not look correct for this to be a female Band Winged Meadowhawk based on BugGuide images.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to assist in this identification.

Appreciate your taking the time to look. I don’t feel so bad if even you have trouble.  Seems there are variations on every theme, so not so easy to sort out.  Plus, I have to get lucky enough to get a decent shot for details you just can’t see when they’re on the wing.  Which is most of the time.
I had trouble with this one last year too, so will keep trying.

Update with new photo
Daniel, I thought I had identified a different species on my own over the weekend, didn’t want to ask too many requests. But compare these two,attached pics if you have time, and tell me if you think  Widow skimmer  might be right instead of meadow hawk?…
going buggy in South Jersey,
Creek Keeper

Possibly Widow Skimmer

Hello again Val,
We actually considered the Widow Skimmer, but the coloration of the body didn’t seem right on the first image you sent since it doesn’t have yellow stripes.  Perhaps it is a male that is just beginning to turn pruinose.  Here is the description from Bugguide:  “Mature males have a large basal area of brown on each of the four wings, and each wing also has a whitish area roughly at the middle. Their brown bodies become increasingly pruinose (whitish) as they get older.  Females and immature males have the same brown wing bands as the mature males, but not the whitish areas. Wings usually have a brown tip. A dorsal view of the abdomen shows a brown band at center with a yellow stripe running along each side.”

Thanks again Daniel.   Dragonflies are just so difficult, the differences are subtle but maybe if I keep taking pictures eventually we’ll track them down. And if nothing else, maybe the pics will help someone else with the same dilemma down the road.   It just gets a bit overwhelming for a layperson to navigate the big sites, though I think I have looked at every pic on bug guide at this point?  Seemed like.
So, there’s a NJ dragonfly site, I’ll put a query in there. Though not sure they will respond, seems I’ve tried before. Appreciate your taking the time to answer. I’ll let you know if I can get it figured out.
In the meantime, my  pet name for this one is Top Gun. Looks like he’s wearing aviator sunglasses, right?  ha

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: eastern amberwing dragonfly
Location: Auburn, NJ
July 22, 2012 8:34 am
Hi Bugman,
First saw these hanging out on my pepper plants. I think must be a male Eastern Amberwing dragonfly.
Would you agree?
They are much smaller than some of the other types that frequent my place, and their color really makes them stand out from the crowd. But you gotta love that face!
Signature: Creek Keeper

Eastern Amberwing

Hi Creek Keeper,
We agree with you that this is an Eastern Amberwing,
Perithemis tenera.  The Dragonflies and Damselflies of New Jersey website you cited states:  “Our only small (some might say tiny) amber-winged dragonfly.  Females are superficially similar to Halloween Pennant, Calico Pennant, and Painted Skimmer; all are much larger.”  According to images on BugGuide, there is sexual dimorphism and only the male has the amber wings.

Thanks for confirming.  I’ll look for the females now.  Dragonflies are everywhere I look these days. Had a white tail land on me the other day, not sure who was more surprised.  Today a really tiny one was sort of right up in my face.  Fascinating creatures.

Update with new photo
Oh, and just to return past favors, I’ve added another eastern amber wing, but (maybe?)  this time the female, since her wings not entirely amber like the male one I sent you previous.
going buggy in South Jersey,
Creek Keeper

Eastern Amberwing Female

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: European Hornet eating Dragonfly
Location: Westfield, NJ, USA
July 16, 2012 10:58 am
My own internet research led me from my initial suspicion of ”Cicada Killer” to a more accurate labeling of ”European Hornet.” I pulled into my driveway in Westfield, NJ, got out of the car, and heard a strange buzzing/flapping noise. The dragonfly was on its back, struggling, with the hornet clinging to its thorax. By the time I got batteries in the camera, the battle was over, and the hornet was butchering its catch, presumably taking pieces back to the hive.
I have more photos, and even videos of the carnage! If you’re interested, check out
This was an amazing event. I had to leave before the hornet was done with its work, and when I returned home an hour later, all that remained was all four wings of the dragonfly, attached to a tiny piece of thorax exoskeleton! I saved them in a tupperware.
Signature: Jordan

European Hornet kills Dragonfly

Hi Jordan,
This is not the first time we have received documentation of a European Hornet preying upon a Dragonfly.  Since the European Hornet is an introduced species and since we doubt there are many natural predators of Dragonflies in the insect world, the cumulative effects of such predation might have negative ramifications on our local Dragonfly populations.  Thanks for your excellent description of the events.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Libelludae– Common Whitetail–Plathemis lydia
Location: Niagara Region, Ontario
July 10, 2012 4:00 pm
Hello, Bugman
A while back I sent you a dragonfly for id. I just wanted to let you know that I was finally able to id it myself. I came across the id on your site while searching for what I thought was a completely different dragonfly. I have attached both the original picture I sent you (the female) with the second picture (male). The photos were taken at different locations several weeks apart, so alas, no buglove going on here!
The second photo is not as great as I didn’t have my zoom lens and wasn’t able to get very close.
Signature: Alison

Common Whitetail:  Immature Male

Hi Alison,
We agree with you having correctly identified these Dragonflies as Common Whitetails, but we disagree with your assessment that one is a female and the other a male.  We believe both examples are males of the species.  According to BugGuide:  “Males and females have different wing patterns … Immature males have the same body pattern as females but the same wing pattern as mature males”.  Both your individuals have the wing patterns of males.  Your photos are an excellent addition to our archive.

Common Whitetail: Mature Male

Thank you for the correction! I missed that detail. I’m only starting to id dragonflies and they prove far more difficult than butterflies.

We always have trouble with Dragonflies and we were thrilled to see an identification in your subject line.


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Female Widow Skimmer Dragonfly
Location: Naperville, IL
June 25, 2012 11:21 pm
Hi Daniel~
I do believe this is a female widow skimmer, aka Libellula luctuosa, as she lacks the white bloom on the wings that characterizes the males. She rests in these photos on some Russian Sage and on delphinium.
All the best to you.
Signature: -Dori Eldridge

Widow Skimmer

Hi Dori,
We agree that this is a Widow Skimmer, but we cannot confirm that it is a female because according to BugGuide:  “Females and immature males have the same brown wing bands as the mature males, but not the whitish areas. Wings usually have a brown tip. A dorsal view of the abdomen shows a brown band at center with a yellow stripe running along each side.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Fragile Forktail Damselfly
Location: Albany, NY
May 12, 2012 8:14 pm
I was just able to identify my bug as a Fragile Forktail Damselfly. I didn’t see any pictures of this species on your site, so thought you might like it. It’s supposed to be fairly common on the East coast.
Signature: Naomi

Fragile Forktail Damselfly

Hi Naomi,
Thank you so much for sending us your photograph of a Fragile Forktail Damselfly,
Ischnura posita.  According to BugGuide the Fragile Forktail Damselfly can be identified because of the “Pale shoulder stripes resemble exclamation points—true of both sexes.”  The marks are clearly visible in your photograph.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination