Global menu

Insects and other arthropods

Diptera, Hymenoptera and Lepidoptera

The cluster fly has just one pair of wings. It has halters instead of hindwings.
Photo: Insectarium de Montréal (Mélanie Riverin)
Pollenia sp., Québec, Canada.
  • Pollenia sp., Québec, Canada.
  • Polistes dominula, Québec, Canada.
  • Scales on the wings of a butterfly.
  • Scales on the wings of a butterfly.
  • Scales on the wings of a butterfly.


Flies belong to the order of Diptera (which means “two wings”). These insects usually have only one pair of wings. Over a period of several thousand years, their back wings modified into small, knobbed structures called halters, which help the insect maintain its balance while flying.


Hymenoptera (which means “joined wings”) have two pairs of membranous wings that, when flying, join together with a series of miniature hooks called hamuli. These ingenious devices help the insect fly more efficiently. The social wasp, honeybee, bumblebee and ant are all part of the Hymenoptera order.


The wings of butterflies or Lepidoptera (which means "scaly wings") are covered with rows of small scales that resemble tiles on a roof. The slightest contact with the insects’ wings will leave a fine powder on your fingertips. This powder is made of detached scales.

Add this