How butterfly wings shift their color • How butterfly wings shift their color

How butterfly wings shift their color


How butterfly wings shift their color Today’s Video of the Day from the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) describes a butterfly mating experiment that has given scientists a better understanding of how wing color evolves. 

“It was a surprise to find that the lamina, a thin sheet that looks very simple and plain, is the most important source of structural color in so many butterfly wing scales,” said study first author Rachel Thayer.

How butterfly wings shift their colors is shown above in the video. “In each Junonia species, structural color came from the lamina. And they are producing a big range of lamina thicknesses.  Therefore they create a rainbow of different colors. As well as  everything from gold to magenta to blue to green,” explained Thayer.

Butterflies are beautiful, flying insects with large scaly wings. Like all insects, they have six jointed legs, 3 body parts, a pair of antennae, compound eyes, and an exoskeleton. The three body parts are the head, thorax (the chest), and abdomen (the tail end). Also while most butterflies live as long as 7 to 10 days others have a lifespan of about 150 – 180 days.

“This helps us understand how structural color has evolved over millions of years.” 

The study is published in the journal Elife.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

Video Credit: Emily Greenhalgh, MBL

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