Butterfly Scales

butterfly scales

Butterflies are characterized by their scale-covered wings. These scales are pigmented with melanins that give them blacks and browns. Other colors like blues, greens, reds and iridescence are usually created not by pigments but the microstructure of the scales.

This structural coloration is the result of coherent scattering of light by the photonic crystal nature of the scales. The scales cling somewhat loosely to the wing and come off easily without harming the butterfly.

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