The Autumn Meadowhawk – Terry Thormin
Back on August 29th I wrote a blog called Vancouver Island Dragonflies, 2012 Season. In that post one of the things I said was that the Autumn Meadowhawk had not put in an appearance at that time. This seemed rather worrisome to me as last year I saw my first individual on August 16th. Well they have now turned up, and in good numbers. I saw my first on September 6th, just a single individual, and then a few on the 12th, but today they were numerous.
Everywhere I looked along the shore of Little River Pond I saw pairs flying in tandem and laying eggs along the edge of the pond. In one stretch of preferred shoreline that was only about 2 feet long I saw 6 pairs of Autumn Meadowhawk ovipositing, and the total number of pairs along the edge of the pond had to be well over 20, and for a small pond like this that was quite impressive.
The pairs would fly in tandem just over the shoreline, hovering briefly and then dipping down to allow the female to reach down and touch the tip of her abdomen either in the water very close to shore, or in the matted vegetation just above the water line, each time laying a single egg. With the water rapidly receding at this time of year all the eggs will shortly be out of water. The eggs will not hatch until the fall rains fill the pond again, causing the eggs to once again be submerged.
Autumn Meadowhawks flying in tandem
As well as the pairs busy ovipositing, I also saw a number of individuals flying around and perched on the vegetation. Most of these appeared to be females, although I did see at least one individual male. This species is not only the last dragonfly to emerge as an adult in the summer, but is also the last one flying in the fall, with some individuals lasting into mid November if the weather stays warm enough.
Autumn Meadowhawk female
Autumn Meadowhawk male
As well as the Autumn Meadowhawk I had four other species today, the Striped Meadowhawk, and three darners, the Common Green, Blue-eyed and Canada. It is encouraging to see this many dragonflies in September this far north and it was particularly encouraging to find out that the Autumn Meadowhawk was not absent this year, just late, and present in good numbers. I will continue to go back to Little River Pond to see how long each of these species hangs in and who knows, with a little bit of luck my last dragonfly blog may be in November.