Last month I showed you the mood of my garden (which was yellow, in case you missed it), and now it’s time to talk about the September blues. And I don’t mean this in the sense of sadness or melancholy; I’m thinking about a particular dragonfly that is especially abundant this month. Say hello to the Blue-faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum ambiguum):
There are six meadowhawk species in Ohio, but this one is my favorite by far. Three of the others are difficult to identify from photos, so it’s frustrating to never know exactly which of the three I’ve photographed. The Ruby, White-faced, and Cherry-faced Meadowhawks usually get posted to iNaturalist as just “Sympetrum species” and might languish at that genus-only level forever. Although the White-faced is identifiable if you get a shot of the bright white face (which isn’t always possible). But the key to separating these species lies in details of their private parts, which usually means you need to catch them in a net and take a closer look at their undersides. I’d rather stick to just taking their photos, and I think they appreciate that. 🙂
Then there’s the Band-winged Meadowhawk, one that’s easy to identify based on the wing markings.
Finally we have the Autumn and Blue-faced meadowhawks, our only two meadowhawk species with yellow legs. The Autumn looks much like the other meadowhawks, except for those legs.
But the Blue-faced wins my affection not only because it’s easy to identify, but because it’s beautiful! The male of this species has a red abdomen like the other meadowhawks, but take a look at the eyes and face and tell me this isn’t a pretty insect. Go on, admit it, you think this bug is pretty. It’s okay, you can say it. Nobody here will think you’re weird, I promise.
I think it looks like he just ate a big bag of blue cotton candy at the county fair, don’t you? This species is around all summer long, but their numbers peak in September and that’s when I usually go looking for them. They tend to be approachable, often perching along the edges of the walking trail and allowing me to take my time enjoying their company. The other day I almost got one of them to sit on my finger…almost.
Here’s a better look at the female and her paler coloring:
Remember back in July when I showed you how dragonflies keep cool on hot days? Here’s another example of that obelisking behavior:
As I was writing this I was reading about the psychology of colors again. Blue can have either a positive or negative connotation, evoking calmness or sadness, depending on the person. There’s a good article about this on Verywell Mind, a wonderful place to get advice about many mental health concerns — here’s the article about blue.
I was also reminded of a wonderful song by the group Swing Out Sister. My memories of this band’s music are entwined with my time living in Tokyo in the 1980s, some of the happiest years of my life. This one is called Blue Mood, and I guarantee it’ll lift your spirits and possibly have you dancing around your house. You can find their music on Spotify and probably other music platforms, but I also enjoy watching their videos on YouTube for the full 80s experience. Enjoy!