The Cardinal Meadowhawk Dragonfly is small, with only a length of 4 to 5 cm. The abdomen is broad and has the same width along its entire length, in contrast to the other members of its genus.
Mature males are bright red on the face, thorax, and abdomen. Each side of the thorax may be marked with a pair of yellow spots. The wings have some red veins along the outer edge and are shaded with brown near the body. Females are a dull red and the wings may appear a translucent gold color. Immature males are brown instead of red and the spots on the thorax are white rather than yellow.
This species is found from southern British Columbia down the pacific northwest coast all the way to Chile. They can be found on the southeast coast of Vancouver Island from Campbell River south.
This dragonfly can be found near marshes, ponds, and small lakes.
They fly from mid-May to mid-August. They like to perch in bare branches or bask on rocks to absorb the heat early in the day. This species is one of the first dragonflies to emerge each year. I always look forward to seeing them in the spring, they seem to bring the sun with them.
After mating the female typically flies off alone, without the male attached, to lay her eggs in lakes and ponds. She does this by dipping the tip of her abdomen on the surface of the water.
The Larvae live in debris on the bottom of ponds and lakes. They do not actively pursue prey but wait for it to pass by, a strategy that affords them protection from other predators. Larvae emerge as adults at night.