The wings of dragonflies are generally clear, apart from the dark veins and the pterostigmata – the small black marks at the top of the wings.
A dragonfly has two pairs of wings attached to its thorax. The wings are long, veined, and membranous, narrower at the tip and wider at the base. Females have shorter and broader wings than males.
The hindwings (back wings) are broader than the forewings (front wings) and the venation (pattern of the veins) is different at the base.
The veins don’t have blood. The veins have haemolymph, which is a liquid that acts like blood. The haemolymph helps to expand and stiffen the wings after the adult emerges from the final nymphal stage.
The leading edge of each wing has a nodus (a point) where other veins join the marginal vein. The wing is able to flex at this point.
The wings enable a dragonfly to have powerful and agile flight. A dragonfly can move in any direction: upward, downward, forward, backward, to the left, and to the right. It can change direction suddenly.
Drawing: Odonata – Gomphidae wing structure by IronChris, 27 November 2006
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM