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 :)

  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? That´s 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 :-)

    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 :-)

    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!