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Micro- and nanostructures of iridescent wing scales in purple emperor butterflies (Lepidoptera: Apatura ilia and A. iris)

Micro- and nanostructures of iridescent wing scales in purple emperor butterflies (Lepidoptera: Apatura ilia and A. iris)

Microscopy Research and Technique 75(7): 968-976

Apatura ilia (Denis and Schiffermüller, 1775) and A. iris (Linnaeus, 1758) are fascinating butterflies found in the Palaearctic ecozone (excepting the north of Africa). The wings of these insects are covered with a great number of two types of scales positioned like roof tiles. Type I scales are on the surface, while type II scales are situated below them. The structural color of the type I scales is recognized only on the dorsal side of both the fore and hind wings of the males of the aforementioned species. Both types of scales are responsible for pigment color of the wings, but iridescence is observed only in the type I scales. The brilliant structural color is due to a multilayer structure. The features of the scales, their dimensions and fine structure were obtained using scanning electron microscopy. Cross sections of the scales were then analyzed by transmission electron microscopy. The scales of the "normal" and clytie forms of A. ilia have a different nanostructure, but are of the same type. A similar type of structure, but with a different morphology, was also noticed in A. iris. The scales of the analyzed species resemble the scales of tropical Morpho butterflies.

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Accession: 036352497

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PMID: 22392855

DOI: 10.1002/jemt.22021

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