The colouration toolkit of the pipevine swallowtail butterfly, Battus philenor: Thin films, papiliochromes, and melanin

Doekele G. Stavenga*, Hein L. Leertouwer, Bodo D. Wilts

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The ventral hindwings of Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies, Battus philenor, display a colourful pattern, created by variously coloured wing scales. Reflectance and transmittance measurements of single scales indicate that the cream and orange scales contain papiliochrome pigments, while brown, black and blue scales contain melanin. Microspectrophotometry and scatterometry of both sides of the wing scales show that the lower lamina acts as a thin film, with reflection properties dependent on the scale's pigmentation. Notably in the orange scales, the reflectance spectrum of the lower lamina is tuned to the pigment's absorbance spectrum. The dorsal hindwings of the male (but not the female) B. philenor are blue-green iridescent. At oblique illumination, the light reflected by the male's dorsal hindwings can be highly polarised, which may have a function in intersexual signalling.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)547-561
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of comparative physiology a-Neuroethology sensory neural and behavioral physiology
    Volume200
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jun-2014

    Keywords

    • Wing scales
    • Microspectrophotometry
    • Scatterometry
    • Iridescence
    • Sexual signaling
    • IRIDESCENT LEPIDOPTERAN SCALES
    • WING SCALES
    • PIERID BUTTERFLIES
    • INTERFERENCE MICROSCOPY
    • POLARIZED IRIDESCENCE
    • IMAGING SCATTEROMETRY
    • PHOTONIC STRUCTURES
    • SPECTRAL RECEPTORS
    • ULTRAVIOLET SIGNAL
    • OPTICAL-PROPERTIES

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