Support and deformability in insect wings



Coupled investigations of insect wing movements and detailed wing morphology are in progress, and some functional principles underlying wing design are emerging. High speed cine and still photography and stroboscopy indicate that most wings undergo orderly deformation in flight. Common patterns are described and their significance discussed in the light of recent aerodynamic studies.

Many aspects of wing morphology–venational features, relief, thickened areas, flexionlines and vein fractures–may be related to the control of three-dimensional shape while beating. It is usually possible to distinguish areas specialized for deformability, and for support and the limiting of deformation. Some structural adaptations for these roles are described and illustrated.