Like all other insects, dragonflies consist of three main body parts: the head, thorax and abdomen. Dragonflies are made for flying, with delicate muscles guiding each of their four wings. These insects live for only a few weeks. Female dragonflies are actually called damselflies, although both sexes are more commonly called dragonflies.
A dragonfly's head is tough, round and hollow in the back where the neck attaches. This allows for a greater range of motion for the head. A dragonfly's mouth is made up of several lobes that help catch prey. The jaws move side to side when it chews. Also on the dragonfly's head are its compound eyes, which have more than 30,000 lenses. Those lenses help dragonflies see extremely well. For example, they can see individual wing beats, which to the human eye look like a blur. Another feature of the dragonfly head are the antennae, which measure wind direction and speed.
The thorax is the dragonfly body part that control the motion of the head, wings and legs. Most flying insects' wings are connected to the exoskeleton, which is then connected to muscles that help the wings move. But dragonfly wings are connected directly to the thoracic muscles. The wings are complex structures that help the dragonfly fly forward, backward, up and down as well as hover. The legs are also attached to the thorax and help the dragonfly catch prey and perch on structures. Dragonfly thoraxes are often striped.
The final body part of the dragonfly is the abdomen, which is made up of 10 segments. The abdomen is flexible and can bend up and down. The male genitalia are in the ninth segment. Food is digested in the abdomen and excreted through the anus.
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