Structural Features of Dragonfly Wings

Why don’t dragonflies wings collapse?

Dragonflies have specialized wing structures that allow them to stay rigid and avoid collapsing during flight. These structures include a network of veins that provide support and a pair of tiny hooks called hamuli.

1. Wing Veins: Dragonfly wings have a network of veins running through them, supporting the delicate membranes. These veins act as a skeleton, providing structure and strength to the wings. They distribute the forces during flight, preventing collapse and maintaining the wing’s shape.

2. Cross-veins: Cross-veins are connections between the major veins in dragonfly wings. These veins form a lattice structure, akin to a truss, creating additional strength and stability. The cross-veins reinforce the wings, preventing them from folding or collapsing under the pressure of air currents and the dragonfly’s movements.

3. Resilient Wing Membrane: Dragonfly wings are made of a thin, flexible membrane that is also very resilient. This elasticity allows the wings to bend and deform slightly under stress, yet return to their original shape afterward. The wing membrane’s flexibility and ability to deform under pressure help absorb and distribute the forces experienced during flight, preventing collapse.

4. Hamuli: Dragonflies have tiny hook-like structures called hamuli along the leading edge of their wings. When a dragonfly beats its wings, these hamuli interlock, keeping the wings extended and preventing wing folding or collapsing. The hamuli essentially act like tiny Velcro, holding the wings together during the upstroke and downstroke of flight.

Overall, the combination of wing veins, cross-veins, resilient membrane, and hamuli work together to maintain the shape, stability, and rigidity of dragonfly wings, preventing them from collapsing during flight.

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