Without doubt this is one of the most attractive dragonflies. The Calico Pennant has patterned wings, bright stigmas, and colorful markings along the abdomen. It begins adult life with yellow abdominal markings and yellow stigmas. In the mature males the yellow gives way to red. No other dragonfly has this combination of markings. The markings include red heart-shaped spots along the top of the abdomen, and red stigmas. Coloration on the sides of the thorax and face is reddish. The wings include several brown spots, though an occasional the brown spots may be missing.
Females and immature males have yellow spots on the abdomen that are not quite as heart-shaped as on the mature males. The spot patterns on the wing are essentially the same as with mature males, but the stigmas are yellow instead of red.