Can you identify this insect?



  1. #1 Paul Hutch
    November 7, 2011

    Hard to tell from that angle and lighting but I think it’s a male White-faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum obtrusum). At least it looks like one I photographed a while ago.

    Bugguide page

  2. #2 Den!s
    November 7, 2011

    yes ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. #3 Russell
    November 7, 2011

    Red tailed dragonfly? Do y’all get the large blue ones that look like helicopters in flight?

  4. #4 Physicalist
    November 7, 2011

    Probably not. I’d call it a dragonfly.

  5. #5 Christoph Zurnieden
    November 7, 2011

    Hard to tell without context (where? when?) and a slightly out of focus picture but it could be an adult male Brachymesia furcata, indeed.

  6. #6 glenn scriven
    November 7, 2011

    Looks more like a Damselfly.

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    November 7, 2011

    The context is Northern Minnesota in October

  8. #8 Sean
    November 7, 2011

    I would say Sympetrum as well.

  9. #9 CyberLizard
    November 8, 2011

    It’s definitely a dragonfly. Damselflies hold their wings vertical when at rest, dragonflies spread them out. No idea of the exact species, though.

  10. #10 Den!s
    November 8, 2011

    red darter

  11. #11 Christoph Zurnieden
    November 8, 2011

    Ok, October fits, but northern Minnessota? Thatยดs would be very far from home! Normal geographical range is in the most southern states of the USA. Some of these states seem to have a severe drought and this aridity may have caused such an unusual far north sighting but I think B. furcata is out.
    That far north in October a Sympetrum sp. (vicinium? Does it have a small triangular kind of thorn at the bottom of the tail and yellowish legs? If it has such things and has a reddish abdomen, too, it is a female of that species. If the form of the hamule fits) is more likely.

    You may try which has a very large collection of geographically annotated and correctly identified (see comments to the respective pictures) images. I used it to crosscheck my guesses but it is hard to search there without any first guess. You may take a look at for how hard it is to identify Anisoptera. I was probably a bit too bold to try my new fresh new and obscenely over-priced teeth at it ๐Ÿ™‚

    As far as I remember has a kind of checklist but that site seems to be off (got only time-outs for the last half hour).

  12. #12 Greg Laden
    November 8, 2011

    Christoph, good questoins… Aaron Brees is saying it’s Sympetrum obtrusum

  13. #13 Sandra
    November 8, 2011

    It’s a red-tailed dragonfly ! Lots of pictures and information when you put it into Google. I make Insect themed jewelry and have been looking at Dragonflies a lot in order to create them in Silver. Hope this is helpful.

  14. #14 Chris Winter
    November 8, 2011


    What, you wanted something more specific?

  15. #15 Chris Winter
    November 8, 2011

    Christoph Zurnieden wrote: “As far as I remember has a kind of checklist but that site seems to be off (got only time-outs for the last half hour).”

    The Wayback Machine has its last snapshot on 30 June. Prior to that it appeared at least once a month throughout this year.

  16. #16 Christoph Zurnieden
    November 8, 2011

    Aaron Brees is an authority here, so S. obtrusum it will be.

    S. obtrusum has a distinct white “face”, which means I asked many questions but not the right one, as it seems ๐Ÿ™‚

    Oh, and is off-line? Sad, it was a good source. But at least it has been archived.

  17. #17 rob
    November 9, 2011

    that insect is Charlie. he owes me money.

  18. #18 Aaron Brees
    January 18, 2012

    Did I really say that it was S. obtrusum??? Christoph’s suggestion of Sympetrum vicinum is certainly correct. Terrifying that anyone would call me an “authority” on these things!