Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Dragonfly question

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Question
Hi, my son is doing a project on dragonflies and he is required to ask a question from an expert. He wants to know why dragonflies have 4 wings?  Also he was wondering about how many total dragonflies there are in the USA.

Thanks, any help is greatly appreciated.

Answer
Jon:

There are about 325 species of dragonflies in North America north of Mexico.  This number does *not* include damselflies, the smaller versions of dragonflies. There are about 135 species of damselflies.

Not sure how to answer the question of why they have four wings.  Most flying insects have two pairs of wings.  It probably gives them better maneuverability to chase prey and avoid predators.  There have been many interesting scientific studies on how dragonflies fly.  You may want to consult "Google Scholar" for those references, and read the abstracts.

Please give your son my best wishes for a successful project.  He has chosen a very interesting subject!

Cheers,

Eric

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Eric R. Eaton

Expertise

I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.

Experience

Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Publications
Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Education/Credentials
Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for AllExperts.com, 2009.

Past/Present Clients
Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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