Dragonflies are aerial predators, ruling the skies and terrorizing other airborne insects since before the dinosaurs. Although they have a more "primitive" flight mechanism than other insects, this does not mean they are poorer fliers; they are, in certain ways, more agile than anything that has evolved afterwards. After all, if they couldn't outmaneuver their prey, they would have gone extinct long ago... An engineer's dream, its wings provide the dragonfly with outstanding speed and maneuverability. They feature a direct flight mechanism with wing muscles connecting directly to the wing bases, which are hinged so that a small movement of the wing base downward lifts the wing itself upwards (much like an oar). When in flight, the wings perform a figure-8 motion, creating vortices of swirling air that keep the insect aloft. They take advantage of unsteady viscous fluid dynamics in a way we are still striving to comprehend. Fore and hind wings operate independently, which gives a degree of fine control and mobility not seen in other flying insects, in terms of the abruptness with which they can change direction and speed. Sources: - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insect_flight - www.news.cornell.edu/releases/March00/APS_Wang.hrs.html and many more: www.google.com/search?q=dragonfly+wing+flight+mechanics
This is a Scarlet darter (Crocothemis erythraea)
male. Best viewed Large, On Black
(highly recommended!) Click here for more photos of this species in my photostream.