Coloration of butterfly wings

Coloration of butterfly wings
Coloration of butterfly wings

Don’t we love butterflies? As children most of us would have chased them too. Many butterflies possess very fascinating colouration, and most species of butterfly can be identified solely by the colour pattern on their wings. Naturally such a diversity has attracted a wealth of research to determine the mechanisms responsible for such colours. Practically speaking, there are many reasons for the wing colouration. Having magnificent coloration of the lack of that can be important in a multitude of ways, ranging from mating, camouflage, and warning purposes. 

Did you know that the colouration of the wings on the butterfly is because the reflection of light? Butterfly by default does not have any pigments of color. So, when light hits the wings of the butterfly, it absorbs most of the colors and reflects some of them which are visible to us. So, when you see a blue butterfly, it means that all the other colors in the visible spectrum are absorbed except for the color blue, which is reflected back. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Researchers have tried to understand the structurally unique, visually chromatic and complex colour mechanisms found in numerous butterfly wings which was used as an inspiration for various advanced technical applications. For example, the reverse diffracting grating effect of Pierella luna was copied artificially and might be useful for bio-sensing and anti-counterfeiting. Hence, analysing butterfly colour patterns does not only enrich our understanding of communication, it can also be the source of new photonic devices.

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