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Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: Michael Duncan
  • Vol. 14, Iss. 11 — May. 29, 2006
  • pp: 4880–4890

Reflectance and transmittance of light scattering scales stacked on the wings of pierid butterflies

D. G. Stavenga, M. A. Giraldo, and B. J. Hoenders  »View Author Affiliations

Optics Express, Vol. 14, Issue 11, pp. 4880-4890 (2006)

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The colors of butterfly wings are determined by the structural as well as pigmentary properties of the wing scales. Reflectance spectra of the wings of a number of pierid butterfly species, specifically the small white, Pieris rapae, show that the long-wavelength reflectance of the scales in situ, on the wing, is distinctly higher than that of single, isolated scales. An optical model explains that this is due to multiple scattering on overlapping scales by treating the layers of scales on both sides of the wing as a stack of incoherently scattering plates. The model sheds new light on the adaptive significance and evolution of butterfly wing patterns.

© 2006 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(290.0290) Scattering : Scattering
(290.5880) Scattering : Scattering, rough surfaces

ToC Category:

Original Manuscript: March 22, 2006
Revised Manuscript: May 8, 2006
Manuscript Accepted: May 14, 2006
Published: May 29, 2006

D. G. Stavenga, M. A. Giraldo, and B. J. Hoenders, "Reflectance and transmittance of light scattering scales stacked on the wings of pierid butterflies," Opt. Express 14, 4880-4890 (2006)

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