Butterfly Colors

It would be neither a myth nor an exaggeration if some one says that a butterfly carries millions of LEDs on its wings!

An LED is a small Light Emitting Diode or simply a colored light fitted into the electronic equipments like computers, television sets, household appliances, toys and traffic lights… The most common LEDs are red, yellow and green. !

But nature has designed most sophisticated LEDs in the form of minute scales on the wings of butterflies. The scales emit a variety of vibrant colors to the delight of a viewer. They are microscopic and have a specialized mirror underneath them very much similar to those found in the LED. On closer look the LED is merely a crude comparison. !

The scales are plugged into socket like structures on the butterfly wing. They possess grids of ribs with pigmented cells which obviously provide the color to the wing. This is not all; the arrangement of ribs, their patterns and spacing contribute to enhancing the range of colors. !

Just rub your finger gently on the wing, the scales stick to your finger as fine dust particles. On your finger, the cells lose their ability to reflect light. The secret lies in their arrangement on the wing. They are arranged in layers and this multilayer arrangement produces a brilliant display of colors from the reflected sunlight. Optical phenomena come into play as a result of which the angle of iridescence of light and the viewing angle of an observer cause beautiful shifts in the color of butterfly wings. !

Butterflies are known by their wing shapes and colors besides other features. But the colors have special significance. Their design in the form of bands, dots and splashes offer pure protection against the predators. The color patterns provide strong warning signals besides confusing the predator from spotting its prey. !

Nature has outsmarted science long before, in imparting LED technology to the butterflies and enhancing their survival. On the other hand, nature has provided admiration to man through the colors of these creatures, which are regarded as symbols of love, freedom, creativity and absolute beauty.