How is colour produced in butterfly wings?

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Offline neilep

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How is colour produced in butterfly wings?
« on: 10/05/2007 19:15:32 »
Butterflys are great...They are my all time favourite non-moth-but-moth looking fluttery thing.........

But, why and how do Butterflies have so many different colours ?[/size]
« Last Edit: 27/02/2010 21:50:51 by chris »
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another_someone

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Re: How is colour produced in butterfly wings?
« Reply #1 on: 10/05/2007 19:39:46 »
I am not sure that it is correct to regard butterflies as 'non-moth-but-moth looking'.  I believe the only difference between a butterfly and a moth is linguistic - we call the colourful one's butterflies, and the dull ones moths, but they are the same group.

I would guess that the colours are sexual (so a buttefly knows which other butterfly to mate with) - but that would imply that they would be sexually dimorphic - but most animal colour schemes are anyway.

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Offline Bored chemist

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Re: How is colour produced in butterfly wings?
« Reply #2 on: 10/05/2007 19:55:22 »
I think the difference is behavioural. Butterfies rest with their wings closed above them; moths rest with their wings apart. Because the butterflies can hide the tops surfaces of their wings this way they can risk having bright colours there. If moths did that they would get seen and eaten. (there are pretty coloured moths too, but not so many. Moths are noted for being nocturnal and I guess this is related to their colours.

I know that quite a lot of butterflies are sexually dimorphic.

The colours are due to a group of chemicals called pteridines (named from the Greek word for wing).
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Offline Batroost

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Re: How is colour produced in butterfly wings?
« Reply #3 on: 10/05/2007 20:00:11 »
Agreed. For example http://www.butterflies-moths.com/index.html

which says:

"Even though moths are much more common than butterflies, people always refer to butterflies when speaking about the lepidoptera. In fact almost 95 % of all the lepidoptera are moths. The subdivision is based on differences in lifestyle between butterflies and moths. The most obvious difference is that butterflies are active during the daytime and moths during the night-time.
All the differences between moths and butterflies can be declared by adaptations to their different lifestyles."


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Offline Batroost

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Re: How is colour produced in butterfly wings?
« Reply #4 on: 10/05/2007 20:06:54 »
But perhaps also have a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhopalocera?

[Yes, I know it's Wicki so may not be 100% reliable but makes good reading nonetheless)
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Offline neilep

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Re: How is colour produced in butterfly wings?
« Reply #5 on: 10/05/2007 20:31:16 »
I am not sure that it is correct to regard butterflies as 'non-moth-but-moth looking'.  I believe the only difference between a butterfly and a moth is linguistic - we call the colourful one's butterflies, and the dull ones moths, but they are the same group.

I would guess that the colours are sexual (so a buttefly knows which other butterfly to mate with) - but that would imply that they would be sexually dimorphic - but most animal colour schemes are anyway.

THANKS George,

I was thinking that it may have been not just sexual but also perhaps camouflage or even as a result of their diet....

I appreciate your comments
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Offline neilep

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Re: How is colour produced in butterfly wings?
« Reply #6 on: 10/05/2007 20:33:54 »
I think the difference is behavioural. Butterfies rest with their wings closed above them; moths rest with their wings apart. Because the butterflies can hide the tops surfaces of their wings this way they can risk having bright colours there. If moths did that they would get seen and eaten. (there are pretty coloured moths too, but not so many. Moths are noted for being nocturnal and I guess this is related to their colours.

I know that quite a lot of butterflies are sexually dimorphic.

The colours are due to a group of chemicals called pteridines (named from the Greek word for wing).

Thank You BC...do they not also fly differently !!...Butterflies seem to flutter about...Moths seems to be able to fly aerodynamically superior...in mY opinion !!
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Offline neilep

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Re: How is colour produced in butterfly wings?
« Reply #7 on: 10/05/2007 20:35:17 »
Agreed. For example http://www.butterflies-moths.com/index.html

which says:

"Even though moths are much more common than butterflies, people always refer to butterflies when speaking about the lepidoptera. In fact almost 95 % of all the lepidoptera are moths. The subdivision is based on differences in lifestyle between butterflies and moths. The most obvious difference is that butterflies are active during the daytime and moths during the night-time.
All the differences between moths and butterflies can be declared by adaptations to their different lifestyles."


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THANKS BAtroot...I appreciate the quote....

LOl....yes it is so much easier with BATS....but wouldn't it be great to have multi-coloured BATS too !!
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Offline Batroost

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Re: How is colour produced in butterfly wings?
« Reply #8 on: 10/05/2007 20:39:46 »
Yeah. A friend of mine bought me back a cuddly-toy from Spain that was bat shaped but made from multi-coloured material.

She claimed it had evolved to be camouflaged in the night-time streets of Torremolinos! [::)]
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Offline Karen W.

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Re: How is colour produced in butterfly wings?
« Reply #9 on: 11/05/2007 05:59:17 »
I am not sure that it is correct to regard butterflies as 'non-moth-but-moth looking'.  I believe the only difference between a butterfly and a moth is linguistic - we call the colourful one's butterflies, and the dull ones moths, but they are the same group.

I would guess that the colours are sexual (so a buttefly knows which other butterfly to mate with) - but that would imply that they would be sexually dimorphic - but most animal colour schemes are anyway.

THANKS George,

I was thinking that it may have been not just sexual but also perhaps camouflage or even as a result of their diet....

I appreciate your comments

somewhere along time ago I heard camouflage also! Different colored flowers plants easier to hide. I don't know for sure.

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Offline Karen W.

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Re: How is colour produced in butterfly wings?
« Reply #10 on: 28/06/2007 03:28:39 »
Check these out Neil.. from Crater lake up in Oregon, above me!


« Last Edit: 28/06/2007 03:35:54 by Karen W. »

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