Light and color on the wing: structural colors in butterflies and moths

Appl Opt. 1991 Aug 20;30(24):3492-500. doi: 10.1364/AO.30.003492.


All butterfly and moth scales share the same basic architecture, but various elements of this architecture are particularly complex in those scales that exhibit structural colors. These elements include the scales' ridges and their associated lamellae and microribs, and the trabeculae, the pillars normally that act as spacers within scales. The additional ornamentation produces thin film, Tyndall blue or diffraction colors and represents a particularly striking example of precision in biological pattern formation.