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Butterfly Wing Scale Digital Image Gallery

From a distance, butterfly wings are a beautiful sight to behold. Under a microscope, they are even more so. The Olympus MIC-D Digital Microscope is capable of capturing the fine details present in the delicate structures of these fragile, yet versatile structures. Utilizing a variety of specimen preparation techniques, the butterfly wing scale gallery contains digital images taken in brightfield, darkfield, and oblique illumination modes, as well as in reflected light. Each type of illumination results in a different image and, when examined together, they provide a more complete representation of the magnificence and complexity of some of natureís most splendid creatures.

Autumn Leaf - An autumn leaf butterfly would make a formidable foe in a game of hide-and-seek. When hanging upside down, completely still, with its wings folded and its undersides exposed, the species is almost impossible to distinguish from surrounding fall foliage.

Banded King Shoemaker - In flight, banded king shoemakers may appear more similar to birds in a flock, than butterflies. Though they do not chirp, some observers report hearing a cracking sound when groups of the banded king shoemakers fly by. Using strong thoracic muscles to power their wings, these lepidopterans are extremely swift.

Black and White Helen - Similar to the little black dress at a formal affair, the black and white Helen butterfly demonstrates the rule that sometimes less is more. The simple elegance of its black wings marked in white makes the species stand out among many of its more colorful brethren.

Blue Morpho - In a sea of green vegetation, blue morpho butterflies sparkle like jewels. As one of the most iridescent forms in the insect world, the large lepidopterans must not expose their wing tops for long if they want to avoid notice.

Blue Triangle - When disturbed, blue triangle caterpillars exhibit defensive behaviors. Rearing up on their legs, the caterpillars expose a pair of pale yellow or green fleshy horns, known as the osmeteria, from a pocket behind the head.

Blue Wing - Blue wing caterpillars are not as graceful and elegant as the adult butterflies. The caterpillars feature a head capsule topped with two large horns and bodies covered with white tubercles that look similar to warts.

Chinese Peacock - Scientifically described as Papilio bianor, the Chinese peacock butterfly has more than one common name. In Japan, where it is cherished for its flashy colors and large size, the species is better known as karasuageha, named after the iridescent wing feathers of the crow, or karasu.

Clipper - The clipper is one of the most photogenic butterfly species due not only to its beauty, but to the pose its members often strike. Clipper butterflies have a habit of resting or feeding on flower nectar open-winged for long periods of time. The sound and the flash of cameras pass by these models unnoticed, and not an antennae or wing flutters out of place.

Common Jay - A young common jay caterpillar is olive brown, humpbacked, and features white paired terminal appendages, which mimic antennae, on its posterior end. These anatomical structures provide protection from predation by deflecting the attention of predators away from the insect's important head region.

Common Morpho - Prized by butterfly collectors, artists, craft makers, and by souvenir-seeking tourists, a great number of common morphos are marketed each year. Commercial butterfly hunters learn their preferred travel routes and are able to bait potential specimens with rotting fruit, sweetened with additional sugary liquids.

Common Nawab - The common nawab, also known as Polyura athamas, is a member of the family Nymphalidae, the brush-footed butterflies. The species inhabits peninsular India and Southeastern Asia, including the islands of Hong Kong, the Malay Archipelago, and the Philippines. Fifteen scientifically recognized subspecies exist throughout its range.

Cruiser - Cruiser larvae feed on the leaves of plants in the family Passifloraceae, which includes the passion vines and passionflowers. Their favorite seems to be the succulent Adenia, known for its poisonous sap and wine bottle-shaped swollen stems.

Dead Leaf - The camouflage dead leaf butterflies display in their natural habitat helps protect them from individuals, but cannot protect them from society as a whole. Devastating deforestation of the Indo-Australian Region coupled with rampant population growth and chemical pollution assault the critical habitat of the relatively rare tropical species.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail - Easily recognized by its large bright yellow wings with black stripes, the eastern tiger swallowtail is one of the most spectacular and boldly colored butterflies of North America. Adult males of the species have the ability to recognize areas of high moisture and minerals from the air based on the sodium ion concentration of a site, and visit such places to gain additional nutrients.

False Acraea - False acraea butterflies are scientifically described as Pseudacraea clarki and are members of the family Nymphalidae. The adults have a highly modified front pair of legs, which are no longer utilized for walking.

Four-Bar Swallowtail - Four-bar swallowtails are strong, extremely fast fliers that usually feed on flowering trees high up in the tree canopy. However, males repeatedly retrace their flight circuits and are susceptible to capture by collectors when they stop to sip fluids and minerals from puddles.

Glasswing - Well adapted to the Andean climate and elevation, glasswing butterflies seem incessant in their zigzagging pursuit of flower nectar. Members of the species do not like to rush their meals and may spend hours on a single flower bloom while nectaring.

Great Orange Tip - Great orange tip specimens are captured for collectors in the wilds of Asia, but are also reared in captivity. The relatively common butterflies, scientifically referred to as Hebomoia glaucippe, are often released at weddings and used for live displays.

Green Swallowtail - The green swallowtail butterfly is a tropical native of the highland forests of sub-Saharan Africa, but is reared in captivity in butterfly conservatories across North America and Europe. Unusual in the animal kingdom, these lepidopterans exhibit intraspecific sexual mimicry, some female members of a population imitating male morphology.

Lemon Yellow Giant Orange Tip - Scientifically described as Anteos menippe, the lemon yellow giant orange tip butterfly is one of the largest and most robust species in the butterfly family Pieridae. Built for long flights, the brightly colored butterflies are occasionally observed migrating in large flocks in Central and South America.

Leopard Lacewing - Frequently observed in tropical and subtropical forests, during the rainy season leopard lacewing numbers increase dramatically. Hundreds of the butterflies may fly en masse, creating an amazing spectacle.

Lilac Beauty - Lilac beauties are members of the brush-footed butterfly family, Nymphalidae, and consist of two described subspecies. The upper sides of the wings of the western subspecies display a broad sub apical orange band bordered in black and three, small white apical spots. The eastern subspecies lacks the orange band and features richer violet hues.

Longwing - Longwing butterflies are extremely loyal to their host and food plant, the passionflower vine. The butterflies have unusually long lifespans and high fecundity rates, which largely result from their augmented diet. Instead of surviving on food stores from the larval stage or solely sipping flower nectar, adult longwing butterflies are avid pollen eaters.

Lormier's Swallowtail - Lormierís swallowtail larvae feed on vegetation in the rue and citrus tree family, Rutaceae. The East African satinwood tree, important commercially for creating fine furniture, cabinets, flooring, paneling, and veneer, is one of the caterpillar's preferred food plants.

Malachite - In Jamaica and Cuba, malachite butterflies may be observed on mountain slopes sipping nectar from the white flowers of coffee plants. In fact, malachites are considered one of the most common butterflies of coffee, tea, and cocoa plantations. Sometimes the fast, powerful, fliers will feed all day long, soaring to great heights to visit their favorite blooms.

Mocker Swallowtail - Mocker swallowtail butterflies exist in thirteen different color morphs in various areas of sub-Saharan Africa. Only the females are mimetic, however, and the males of the species display the same black and yellow warning coloration pattern regardless of geographic location.

Monarch - One of the most beloved butterflies of North America, the monarch is famous for its spectacular migrational travels. Unlike birds or migrating whales, individual butterflies only make the trip once in their lives. Amazingly, several generations later, a new group of monarchs make the migratory journey.

Orchard Swallowtail - In the larval stage, orchard swallowtails voraciously chew the leaves of economically important orange, tangerine, and lemon trees. The caterpillars are such noisy feeders that their leaf crunching sounds can be used to locate them at night.

Painted Jezebel - Brightly decorated females are responsible for the colorful and somewhat scandalous common name of painted jezebel butterflies. The extremely diverse species has dozens of endemic subspecies on islands in the Pacific Ocean.

Palla ussheri - Vanilla, the only orchid that is a climbing vine, is an important cash crop in Central Africa. As the preferred food plant of the butterfly larvae, Palla ussheri caterpillars are placed in the unenviable position of being considered agricultural pests.

Pipevine Swallowtail - There are some indications that, like honeybees, pipevine swallowtails can quickly learn to associate certain flower colors with larger nectar supplies. The butterflies sip from many flowers, including thistles, lilacs, azaleas, lantanas, and petunias, but favor those that are orange, pink or purple.

Polydamas Swallowtail - Although uniform in appearance throughout its range in North, Central, and South America, the polydamas swallowtail butterfly displays considerable variation in the Caribbean, with almost every island featuring its own subspecies. Considered a near-perfect model of island biogeography, subspecies from smaller islands, such as Antigua, are apparently extinct.

Red Panacea - Although not the cure-all that its common name indicates, the red panacea butterfly is a wonder to behold. One of the swiftest of the tropical rainforest butterflies, the species often soars at the canopy level. The undersides of its graceful wings are covered in eye-catching reds and pinks while metallic greens and blues shine on their black upper sides.

Redspot Sawtooth - The common name of the redspot sawtooth butterfly spawned from the markings on its wings, which consist of a large red spot and a sawtooth pattern created by oblong yellow and white patches of wing scales. Although its appearance closely resembles the poisonous painted jezebel butterfly, the redspot sawtooth is not considered a mimic.

Rusty-Tipped Page - Aptly named for its rust colored wingtips, the rusty-tipped page butterfly flashes a warning coloration of black and orange to potential predators. However, not all predators heed the admonition and bird-beak tears are often found in the wings of wild specimen.

Shoemaker - A denizen of the Amazonian rainforest, the shoemaker butterfly is a beautiful insect that exhibits deep black wings decorated with contrasting bright orange vertical bands and a large orange spot. Its common name may be an allusion to the fairytale "The Shoemaker and the Elves" and the ancient belief that butterflies were wood nymphs, fairies, or winged elves.

Silverspot - Silverspot butterflies are not often alone. On the Caribbean Islands of Grenada, Martinique, and St. Vincent, the lepidopterans reportedly form colonies and roost together in the same trees night after night.

Small Apollo - Due to environmental constraints, the small apollo butterfly must complete an entire generation in a very short period of time, generally from late June to late August. Highly fecund, adult females may lay as many as 1,000 eggs, but few of them will make it to maturity and successfully reproduce.

Spicebush Swallowtail - Despite its common name, when given a choice the female spicebush swallowtail butterfly will most often choose sassafras as the host plant and food source for its larvae, even when spicebush is in close proximity. Adults gather nectar from a variety of sources including mimosa trees, Japanese honeysuckle, milkweed, lantana, azalea, and other ornamental plants.

Stinky Leaf Wing - In the larval stage, stinky leaf wing butterflies appear menacing and exhibit various self-protective behaviors. Early larval instars are white with three rows of black spines, a black head, and a short pair of coronal spines. As a guard against ants, which often inhabit the host plant, the young caterpillars produce frass chains along leaf edges.

Tailed Jay - Both sexes of tailed jays are very fast fliers and continue vibrating their wings rapidly even when they pause to nectar at flowers. When the butterflies are flying in open country, they are extremely difficult to catch.

Tawny Owl - Female tawny owl butterflies lay groups of pinkish eggs on the undersides of banana tree leaves and other vegetation, such as plantains, parrot's flowers, and prayer plants. The voracious larvae that hatch from them can ingest incredible quantities of leaves and grow to enormous sizes of up to 160 millimeters long and 15 millimeters thick.

Tiger Mimic - The variation of tiger mimics inspired a change in the belief systems of Victorian biologists. Instead of continuing to solely concentrate on fixed species, the scientists began considering issues such as natural selection, phenotypic shifts in natural populations, and the evolution of new species.

Tropical Leafwing - The tropical leafwing butterfly species and its congenerics are popular in butterfly collections prepared for science courses and museums because they illustrate camouflage mimicry and convergent evolution so well. Originally quite rare in private collections, butterfly hunters have since learned to lure wild individuals to traps baited with fermenting fruits.

Variable Eggfly - The variable eggfly butterfly mimics the high contrast black and white wing coloration of three poisonous species of friar butterfly. Wide-ranging in tropical Africa, the variable eggfly and the other members of its mimetic ring are often found flying in mixed groups.

Viceroy - Viceroy butterflies usually display the orange and black coloration of the monarch butterfly on the upper sides of their forewings and hind wings. In Florida, Georgia, and the American Southwest where monarch butterflies are relatively rare, however, viceroy butterflies are a deep mahogany brown rather than orange and are better mimics of the queen butterfly.

Western Blue - Female western blue butterflies lay their eggs on tropical plants including acacias, aspen trees, mahogany beans, and craib trees, and newborn caterpillars forage for leaves on the plants on which they were born. Although acacias are famous for their co-evolved communities of guardian ants, which prevent most kinds of herbivory, the adaptation appears to have little impact on the hardy western blue caterpillars.

White Barred Charaxes - Since larval white barred charaxes feast on economically important tropical timber species, the caterpillars are considered agricultural pests. Consequently, the species is frequently subjected to chemical control by insecticide applications.

White Lady Swallowtail - Despite its name, the white lady swallowtail is not completely colorless, but instead displays black markings on its white wing backgrounds. Over-harvesting and habitat destruction continually threaten the species and, in Equatorial Guinea, Togo, and Angola, the butterflies are considered endangered.

Zebra Swallowtail - Zebra swallowtail caterpillars prefer young plants as hosts and exclusively feed upon the pawpaw. Formidable in size and appearance, the late larval instars are hard to overlook due to their characteristic humped backs and pale green bodies covered in loud blue, black, and yellow rings.

Contributing Authors

Cynthia D. Kelly, Shannon H. Neaves, Laurence D. Zuckerman, and Michael W. Davidson - National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, 1800 East Paul Dirac Dr., The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, 32310.


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