Skip Navigation LinksOdes For Beginners : Identifying Odonates : ID 101 : Dragonfly ID : Wing Patterns

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Dragonfly Wings

Are the wings clear, colored or slightly tinted?

Most species have wings that are clear, some may have a tiny basal spot

A few species normally have colored wings, they may be plain or spotted

Tinted wings are often more pronounced in older individuals, but not always

Is there a wing pattern, spots, bands, bars? Which wings are marked and where on the wing are the markings?

Saddlebags and many others may have basal patches

Note the small basal bars and dark wingtips in each wing

The costa and other front veins on many species may vary in color

The black is pigment in the wing, the white band is pruinosity

Wing Size: Note the length of the wings relative to the length of the abdomen. Also note the relative width of the forewing and hindwing.

Wing Venation: All the veins in the wing and the shapes they form have names.  This structure is used by entomologists to differentiate between families, genuses and even species upon occasion.

Determining wing venation is done with the insect in hand, using some form of magnification, possibly a hand held 10x magnifying lens, or your binoculars reversed.  It can often be frustrating and complex but if you want to try, you will need a reference such as The Dragonflies of North America

Helpful Hint: Many members if the Skimmer family have diagnostic wing patterns, making them readily identifiable in the field.

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