Classical lepidopteran wing scale colouration in the giant butterfly-moth

Doekele G. Stavenga, Hein L. Leertouwer, Andrej Meglič, Kazimir Drašlar, Martin F. Wehling, Primož Pirih, Gregor Belušič

    OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

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    The palm borer moth Paysandisia archon (Castniidae; giant butterfly-moths) has brown dorsal forewings and strikingly orange-coloured dorsal hindwings with white spots surrounded by black margins. Here, we have studied the structure and pigments of the wing scales in the various coloured wing areas, applying light and electron microscopy and (micro)spectrophotometry, and we analysed the spatial reflection properties with imaging scatterometry. The scales in the white spots are unpigmented, those in the black and brown wing areas contain various amounts of melanin, and the orange wing scales contain a blue-absorbing ommochrome pigment. In all scale types, the upper lamina acts as a diffuser and the lower lamina as a thin film interference reflector, with thickness of about 200 nm. Scale stacking plays an important role in creating the strong visual signals: the colour of the white eyespots is created by stacks of unpigmented blue scales, while the orange wing colour is strongly intensified by stacking the orange scales.
    Originele taal-2English
    Artikelnummere4590
    Aantal pagina's22
    TijdschriftPeerJ
    Volume6
    DOI's
    StatusPublished - 11-apr.-2018

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