Reflections on colourful ommatidia of butterfly eyes

DG Stavenga*

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

    Onderzoeksoutput: ArticleAcademicpeer review

    63 Citaten (Scopus)
    136 Downloads (Pure)


    The eye shine of butterflies from a large number of ommatidia was observed with a modified epi-illumination apparatus equipped with an objective lens of large numerical aperture. A few representative cases are presented: the satyrine Bicyclus anynana, the heliconian Heliconius melpomene, the small white Pieris rapae and the small copper Lycaena phlaeas. The colour of the eye shine is determined mainly by the reflectance spectrum of the tapetal mirror and the transmittance spectrum of the photoreceptor screening pigments, if present near the light-guiding rhabdom. Reflectance spectra measured from individual ommatidia show that tapetum and screening pigments are co-expressed in fixed combinations, thus determining different ommatidial classes. The classes are distributed in an irregular pattern that can be rapidly assessed with the novel epi-illumination apparatus. Many butterfly species appear to have red-reflecting ommatidia, which is interpreted to indicate the presence of red-sensitive photoreceptors.

    Originele taal-2English
    Pagina's (van-tot)1077-1085
    Aantal pagina's9
    TijdschriftJournal of Experimental Biology
    Nummer van het tijdschrift8
    StatusPublished - apr.-2002

    Citeer dit