Brilliant iridescence of Morpho butterfly wing scales is due to both a thin film lower lamina and a multilayered upper lamina

M. A. Giraldo, D. G. Stavenga

    OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

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    Butterflies belonging to the nymphalid subfamily, Morphinae, are famous for their brilliant blue wing coloration and iridescence. These striking optical phenomena are commonly explained as to originate from multilayer reflections by the ridges of the wing scales. Because the lower lamina of the scales of related nymphalid butterflies, the Nymphalinae, plays a dominant role in the wing coloration, by acting as a thin film reflector, we investigated single blue scales of three characteristic Morpho species: M. epistrophus, M. helenor and M. cypris. The experimental data obtained by spectrophotometry, scatterometry and scanning electron microscopy demonstrated that also in the Morpho genus the lower lamina of both the cover and ground scales acts as an optical thin film reflector, contributing importantly to the blue structural coloration of the wings. Melanin pigment has a contrast-enhancing function in a sub-class of ground scales.

    Originele taal-2English
    Pagina's (van-tot)381-388
    Aantal pagina's8
    TijdschriftJournal of Comparative Physiology A
    Volume202
    Nummer van het tijdschrift5
    DOI's
    StatusPublished - mei-2016

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