Science, Tech, Math › Animals & Nature Insect Classification - Subclass Pterygota and Its Subdivisions Insects That Have (Or Had) Wings Share Flipboard Email Print Pterygotes are insects with veined wings. Flickr user Colin ( CC license) Animals & Nature Insects Basics Behavior & Communication Ants. Bees, & Wasps Beetles Butterflies & Moths Spiders Ticks & Mites True Bugs, Aphids, Cicadas, and Hoppers Amphibians Birds Habitat Profiles Mammals Reptiles Marine Life Forestry Dinosaurs Evolution View More By Debbie Hadley Entomology Expert B.A., Political Science, Rutgers University Debbie Hadley is a science educator with 25 years of experience who has written on science topics for over a decade. our editorial process Debbie Hadley Updated July 03, 2019 The subclass Pterygota includes most of the world’s insect species. The name comes from the Greek pteryx, which means “wings.” Insects in the subclass Pterygota have wings, or had wings once in their evolutionary history. Insects in this subclass are called pterygotes. The main identifying feature of pterygotes is the presence of veined wings on the mesothoracic (second) and metathoracic (third) segments. These insects also undergo metamorphosis, either simple or complete. Scientists believe insects evolved the ability to fly during the Carboniferous period, over 300 million years ago. Insects beat vertebrates to the skies by some 230 million years (pterosaurs evolved the ability to fly about 70 million years ago). Some insect groups that were once winged have since lost this ability to fly. Fleas, for example, are closely related to flies, and are believed to descend from winged ancestors. Although such insects no longer bear functional wings (or any wings at all, in some cases), they are still grouped in the subclass Pterygota due to their evolutionary history. The subclass Pterygota is further divided into two superorders – the Exopterygota and the Endopterygota. These are described below. Characteristics of the Superorder Exopterygota: Insects in this group undergo a simple or incomplete metamorphosis. The life cycle includes just three stages – egg, nymph, and adult. During the nymph stage, gradual change occurs until the nymph resembles the adult. Only the adult stage has functional wings. Major Orders in the Superorder Exopterygota: A large number of familiar insects fall within the superorder Exopterygota. Most insect orders are classified within this subdivision, including: Order Ephemeroptera - mayfliesOrder Odonata - dragonflies and damselfliesOrder Orthoptera - crickets, grasshoppers and locustsOrder Phasmida - stick and leaf insectsOrder Grylloblattodea - rock crawlersOrder Mantophasmatodea - gladiatorsOrder Dermaptera - earwigsOrder Plecoptera - stonefliesOrder Embiidina - webspinnersOrder Zoraptera - angel insectsOrder Isoptera - termitesOrder Mantodea - mantidsOrder Blattodea - cockroachesOrder Hemiptera - true bugsOrder Thysanoptera - thripsOrder Psocoptera - barklice and booklice Order Phthiraptera - biting and sucking lice Characteristics of the Superorder Endopterygota: These insects undergo a complete metamorphosis with four stages – egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The pupal stage is inactive (a rest period). When the adult emerges from the pupal stage, it has functional wings. Orders in the Superorder Endopterygota: The majority of the world's insects undergo complete metamorphosis, and are included in the superorder Endopterygota. The largest of these nine insect orders are: Order Coleoptera - beetlesOrder Neuroptera - nerve-winged insectsOrder Hymenoptera - ants, bees, and waspsOrder Trichoptera - caddisfliesOrder Lepidoptera - butterflies and mothsOrder Siphonoptera - fleasOrder Mecoptera - scorpion flies and hangingfliesOrder Strepsiptera - twisted=wing parasitesOrder Diptera - true flies Sources: "Pterygota. Winged insects." Tree of Life Web Project. 2002. Version 01 January 2002 David R. Madden. Accessed online September 8, 2015.Pterygota, pterygote. Bugguide.net. Accessed online September 8, 2015.A Dictionary of Entomology, edited by Gordon Gordh, David Headric.Borror and DeLong's Introduction to the Study of Insects, 7th edition, by Charles A. Triplehorn and Norman F. Johnson."Subclass pterygota," by John R. Meyer, Department of Entomology, North Carolina State University. Accessed online September 8, 2015.