Subtle left–right biases are often observed in organisms with an overall bilateral symmetry. The evolutionary significance of these directional asymmetries remains uncertain, however, and scenarios of both developmental constraints and adaptation have been suggested. Reviewing the literature on asymmetry in insect wings, we analyze patterns of directional asymmetry in wing size to evaluate the possible adaptive significance of this character. We found that directional asymmetry in wing size is widespread among insects, with left- and right-biased asymmetries commonly observed. The direction of the asymmetry does not appear to be evolutionarily conserved above the species level. Overall, we argue that the very small magnitude of directional asymmetry, 0.7% of the wing size on average, associated with an extremely imprecise expression, precludes directional asymmetry from playing any major adaptive role.
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Vol. 62 • No. 11