Insects- How Their Wings Work

There are over a million different species of insects living on earth today. They are some of the oldest and most widespread animals on the planet. For hundreds of years, insects have been notorious for eating our food and carrying deadly diseases. What some people do not know is that they also help keep our earth clean and are key components of our ecosystems. Insects are the only invertebrates that can fly. They have used their wings to cover the world. Danielle Venton wrote that heir wings can be protective shells, musical instruments (grasshoppers), camouflage, signals to recognize each other, a means of attracting mates or warning predators, even tools to fly.

Since Insects are such unique flyers, their wings are very different from every other flying animal. Their wings are composed of two membranes with veins sandwiched in between them. The patterns of veins within an insect are unique and can be used to identify species. Looking at vein patterns can also help scientists to guess what the insects ancestor’s wings may have looked like. Below are the various regions of an insects wing.


An illustration of the general structure of an insect wing.

Until recently, scientists were puzzled by the evolution of flight in insects. Scientists discovered a 370 million year old fossil of a six legged insect looking creature. Although the specific insect in the fossil did not have wings, parts of the insect’s body show that it was evolving wings or was growing wings that it would later have as an adult. This was a groundbreaking discovery because little complete fossils of insects have been found that date back to around the time period.



Unlike most birds, insects rotate their wings in a figure-eight pattern in order to fly. By flapping their wings very rapidly at a specific angle, certain insects are able to hover. In order to avoid brush and predators insects fold their wings onto their backs, much like birds do. In some cases they will cover their wings with their protective shells.


Works Cited

Insect Picture 1

Wing Secrets That Help Insects Rule the World– source article

Insect Wings– source article/ picture

Amazing Fossil Discover Shows How Insects Got Their Wings– s0urce article – video