Extreme Refractive Index Wing Scale Beads Containing Dense Pterin Pigments Cause the Bright Colors of Pierid Butterflies

Bodo D. Wilts*, Bas Wijnen, Hein L. Leertouwer, Ullrich Steiner, Doekele G. Stavenga

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

    OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

    44 Citaten (Scopus)
    35 Downloads (Pure)


    Butterflies of the family Pieridae are brightly colored, ranging from white to red, caused by various pterin pigments concentrated in scattering spheroidal beads in the wing scales. Given the sparsity of the beads in the wing scales, the high brightness suggests a scattering strength of the beads that significantly surpasses that of typical cuticular chitin beads with the areal density found in the wing scales. To elucidate this apparent contradiction, the optical signature of the pierids' highly saturated pigmentary colors are analyzed by using Jamin-Lebedeff interference microscopy combined with Kramers-Kronig theory and light scattering modeling. This study shows that extreme pterin pigment concentrations cause a very high refractive index of the beads with values above 2 across the visible wavelength range, thus creating one of the most highly light scattering media thus far discovered in the animal kingdom.

    Originele taal-2English
    Aantal pagina's8
    TijdschriftAdvanced optical materials
    Nummer van het tijdschrift3
    StatusPublished - feb.-2017

    Citeer dit