How do dragonfly wings work? A brief guide to functional roles of wing structural components


Insect wings have no flight muscles, except those situated in the thorax. However, they continuously respond to forces acting on them during flight. This ability is achieved by the specialised design of the wings and plays a key role in their aerodynamic performance. Dragonfly (Anisoptera) wings represent an extreme example of this automatic shape control among flying insects. The functionality of the wings results from complex interactions between several structural components of which they are composed. Here we put together the results of our recent works, to review the functional roles of some of the key wing components including vein, membrane, vein microjoint, nodus, basal complex and corrugation. Our results help to understand the relationship between the structure, material and function of each of these wing components in complex dragonfly wings. We further use our data to explain how the interactions between the wing components provide dragonflies with fully functional wings.

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