Monday, 31 August 2009

Lurve is in the Air with Pleated Wings

Yesterday spotted two pairs of Common Darter Dragonflies joined head to tail spending a lot of time over the garden pond. I tried for a while to get a photo of them in flight but my ability to adjust the manual focus fast enough defeated me. I did manage a few fuzzy photos of which this is the best.

Mating Dragonflies

After a while they moved on to try somewhere else. Later I noticed a lone female spending some time around the pond and had more luck in snapping this one as she flitted about.

IMG_6251Dragonfly in Flight

IMG_6254Dragonfly in Flight

IMG_6248Dragonfly in Flight

Eventually she settled and spent quite a while in the same spot, occasionally flying up and returning to the same resting place.


One thing I was hoping to record was the unusual way the wings of the dragonfly are designed. At first glance they appear to be flat but if you get the chance to look very closely ridges can be seen. The wings actually have a corrugated or pleated effect.

Dragonfly Wings

Dragonfly Pleated Wing Structure

It can be seen if you study the left front wing shown above.

I would never have spotted this if it hadn't been for a post on Kelly's excellent blog - Red and the Peanut. You can see the post here - "The Stylish Pleats on a Dragonfly's Wings ....". Kelly did some research and recently it has been found that the folds in the wings create circulating currents of air which reduces the drag on the wing. This design appears to be unique to Dragonflies. Once again Nature has the edge on us mere humans in designing an efficient wing.


  1. Mother Nature is a wonderful scientist and teacher. It's great to have the opportunity to look really closely at the intricate detail of small insects et al. Another great advantage of digital cameras and the ability to "zoom".

    Great shots John and well done on the flight shots!

  2. Good morning Tricia. I never dreamt there would be so much to be seen just looking at the creatures visiting my garden. Modern digital cameras with their instant results and high pixel count letting me crop closely is indeed a great advantage over the 'good old days' of the 35mm with its wait a few weeks and hope for a good result.

    Don't go straying off the straight and narrow on your daily expedition :)

  3. and Good morning to you John. The weather's not enticing me out right at this moment - another dull and grey day unfortunately. I'll try not to stray when I do get out though ;)

  4. Excellent flight shots of the lone flyer John.
    I read Kellys post the other day, and was amazed about the pleating. Something I'd never noticed before. There is so much information to be had from these blogs.

  5. These images are stunning. You deserve a medal for capturing the wee blighters in flight.

  6. Lovely, lovely photos John, beautifully detailed! I too read Kelly's wonderful post and just knew it would fascinate you ;)

    Nature really is incredible!

  7. I'm slowly getting the hang of it Keith. I spend far too long browsing blogs some days so few chores get done and up pops a new Round Tuit :)

  8. Thank you Adrian. This is the second year of trying. Fortunately many dragons are creatures of habit so I can sometimes concentrate on one or two areas where they keep hovering for a short while.

  9. Thank you Jan. I just had to know that the pleating applied to all dragons' wings and not just American ones. Sometimes creatures develop differently on different continents.

  10. Brilliant images John

  11. Fantastic photos, and very interesting facts as well.

  12. Thank you Roy. A bit of bright sunshine always helps.

  13. Thank you Mick. It is a fascinating subject.

  14. Stunning photos. Thanks for sharing them with us.

  15. Thank you Twosiehedgehog. My pleasure entirely.


Thank you for visiting. Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Any comment, or correction to any information or identification I get wrong, is most welcome. John

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