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Word of the Week: Pterostigma
July 11, 2019 by Haya Aldoori

Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!

Photo by Richard Bod

Pterostigma (noun) [ter -uh-STIG-muh]: A group of specialized cells in the outer wings of insects, which are often thickened and or coloured. This coloured spot can mostly be found towards the wing tip and often is a stand out feature of the wing because it is darker in pigmentation.

This fun word comes from the Greek word ptero, meaning wing, and stigma, meaning mark.

The pterostigma is heavier than the surrounding areas of the wings and as such, the extra weight has been found, through much scientific work, to help the insect with gliding. Specifically, the pterostigma has the ability to reduce vibrations within the wing.

The pterostigma are particularly noticeable in insects like damselflies or dragonflies, and can be seen close to the wing tips of the fore and hind wings. Since the first week of July, our summer camp participants have been seeing many dragonflies zooming through High Park in places like butterfly hill, the OurSpace planting pods, and by the water of Grenadier Pond. Some of the species of dragonflies that the kids have been noticing include, the Common Green Darner, the Black Saddlebag Skimmer, and the Common Whitetail Skimmer.

Keep an eye out for dragonflies and their pterostigma on your next High Park visit!

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