Butterfly scales through the lens of a Foldscope

I was really excited to receive a new Foldscope kit recently, and after corresponding with Manu online, we agreed that butterfly scales represent a nice project that others can easily get involved with! Here are some previous posts on the subject: https://microcosmos.foldscope.com/?p=10080, & https://microcosmos.foldscope.com/?p=16562

Here’s magnification of a butterfly eyespot and through the lens of a #Foldscope below,

Butterflies are known to follow the “one scale, one color” rule, meaning each scale either has a particular pigment deposited to give it a color (like the black and orange), or its shape determines the structural color (like the blue and purple in the eyespot).

One thing I really like about @teamfoldscope is how these low cost tools can be used for science education – here at a quick glance you can get an idea of how butterfly patterns are composed of cellular outgrowths (scales) and how scale morphology plays a role in color production.

Darker scales arranged in neat rows, showing ground and cover scales.

A black scale filled with melanin pigment.

A blue scale that appears transparent due to the transmitted light.

Orange scales filled with an ommochrome pigment.

Another angle of the blue scales reveals more of their iridescent structural coloration.

Hope you enjoyed, and if you have questions about investigating butterfly scales with the Foldscope in your area, please do get in touch!


#butterfly#color #scale #microscope#macro #curious #science

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Honomi says:

    Beautiful post, Aaron! Now I’m curious if the eyespots exist to scare off predators or to draw attention.

  2. laksiyer says:

    @Aaron. Lovely lovely post. We should make a butterfly database, in as sensitive a way as possible. It would be interesting to see how they look in reflected light. Hope to post a hack in a few days.

  3. laksiyer says:

    Correction, butterfly scale database.

  4. Mitali says:

    Wow! Beautiful videos! I have been following your work on Instagram. It’s great to see you here. I love your work. 🙂 Recently I applied for an internship at TIFR and I’ve written my SOP inspired by your work on transparency of lepidopteran wings. I wish to study the role of nanostructures of scales in intra and interspecies signalling.
    Best wishes,
    Mitali Patil
    Second year undergrad,
    Ramnarain Ruia College, Mumbai.

  5. ezekieljakub says:

    Great idea above with scale database. Let me know I could get some folks onboard here in Panama. Especially in field we find lots of expired specimens


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