Insects with two pairs of wings have them work in unison by attaching the wings in various ways, with hooks, folds, or catches.

? Black‑tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) ‑ top view

Butterfly Polyommatus icarus, Belgium (natural reserve Furfooz) .

a widow skimmer with four black and transparent wings, and a long thin yellow and black striped body
Image: Tom Benson / Flickr / CC BY NC ND - Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives

The pairs of wings on two‑winged insects work in unison, as seen on this Widow Skimmer

“[I]n those insects with two pairs of fully operative wings, both are commonly linked together so that they work in unison. Linking devices vary widely. In butterflies and some moths, the upper and lower wings perform as one because of an overlapping fold on the hind edge of the forewing, which thus pushes the hindwing with it on the down stroke. In others there is a more elaborate coupling device consisting of a spine, or frenulum, on one wing which is held by a catch or a group of bristles (retinaculum) on the other. Bees and wasps have an even more elaborate series of hooks and catches on their wing margins.” (Wootton 1984:36)

Last Updated August 18, 2016