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Butterfly Wing Scale Digital Image Gallery

Lemon Yellow Giant Orange Tip Butterfly

Male lemon yellow giant orange tip butterflies feature strong serrations on the leading edge of their forewings, which may be important in male-male interactions and for defense. Indeed, life for the males of this tropical species is a contact sport. The butterflies can often be seen in small flocks swirling around each other or at mud holes in tight groups where jostling frequently occurs.

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. Although collected widely throughout the American tropical rainforests, the butterflies are most common in Peru and Brazil, especially in urban and suburban areas where cassia, their preferred host plants, are used as landscaping along residential streets. For sipping nectar, the butterflies prefer to visit red and purple flowers, such as hibiscus, lantana, bougainvillea, and passionflowers.

The common name of the lemon yellow giant orange tip species is aptly descriptive of its more noticeable mode of appearance. The upper sides of its wings exhibit the beautiful coloration described in its name, as well as a pair of black false eyespots. However, the crafty species can exhibit another look when desired. If its wings are held upright with the undersides exposed, the butterfly looks like a green, veined leaf with a distinct midrib. The cryptic coloring acts as a safeguard against potential predators that may not be able to differentiate the camouflaged prey from surrounding foliage.

Lemon yellow giant orange tip caterpillars also display cryptic coloration. The larvae primarily feed on the leaves of cassia plants but, unlike many butterfly larvae that defend themselves with sequestered phytochemicals, remain palatable despite high concentrations of alkaloids in the cassia leaves. Therefore, instead of exhibiting a warning coloration, the caterpillars, which co-evolved with cassia plants, developed a different mode of protection. The caterpillars exhibit different cryptic color morphs depending on the time of the year and the location of the eggs on the host plant.

Lemon Yellow Giant Orange Tip Butterfly Images in Brightfield Illumination

Textured Wing Scales (Dark) - This image is a high magnification of wing scales captured in brightfield illumination. The texture of each scale is beautifully displayed, with dark, vertical striations running along their length.

Lemon Yellow Giant Orange Tip Butterfly Images in Oblique Illumination

Textured Wing Scales (Light) - This is another splendid example of the texture of a lemon yellow giant orange tip's wing scales. The striations appear a light, golden color in this photomicrograph, a stark difference from the dark lines seen in the additional brightfield image.

Textured Wing Scales and Fur - The striated texture of the wing scales is also demonstrated in this oblique illumination image, although the butterfly's fur conceals many of the details.

Lemon Yellow Giant Orange Tip Butterfly Images in Reflected Light

Orange and Yellow Wing Scales - The characteristic shading of the lemon yellow giant orange tip butterfly is beautifully exhibited in this photomicrograph. Bright orange and yellow scales intertwine in a medley of color.

Yellow and Black Wing Scales - This photomicrograph reveals golden hued wing scales contrasted against a field of black. The pale yellow scales increase in color intensity as they approach the darker area of the wing.

Yellow Wing Scales and Vein (Low Magnification) - A dark v-shaped vein divides numerous rows of brightly colored scales. A sprinkling of orange can be seen amidst the dazzling yellow.

Yellow Wing Scales and Vein (Medium Magnification) - This increased magnification image is another view of a yellow area of the lemon yellow giant orange tip butterfly's wing. A thin dark vein runs across the center of the photomicrograph and the scales appear feathery as they fit around it.

Yellow Wing Scales and Vein (High Magnification) - Minute details regarding the shape and texture of a butterfly wing vein are clearly displayed in this high magnification image. Pale yellow scales surround the supportive structure.

Orange Wing Marking (Low Magnification) - A bright orange-pink wing marking bordered in black scales is displayed in this reflected light image. The unique coloration is eye-catching against a background of yellow scales.

Orange Wing Marking (High Magnification) - This photomicrograph is an increased magnification of the previous image. The great variety of wing scales hues is easily discerned, as well as details regarding their shape.

Wing Scales and Fur (Low Magnification) - The fur of the lemon yellow giant orange tip appear to be the same shade of light yellow as the surrounding wing scales in this low magnification image.

Wing Scales and Fur (Medium Magnification) - In this increased magnification image, two colors of lemon yellow giant orange tip fur are exhibited. Some strands appear the pale yellow seen in the previous photomicrograph, while others appear to be black.

Wing Scales and Fur (High Magnification) - Pale yellow wing scales covered in a downy fur are exhibited in this high magnification image. A small section of wing vein can also be seen.

Ruffled Wing Scales - Multiple shades of yellow scales that look as if they were ruffled feathers are displayed in this photomicrograph. The scales on the left side of the image, however, appear to lie flat.

Smooth Wing Scales - Rows of rounded wing scales appear like a smooth layer of shingles on a roof in this image. A few stray strands of fur appear wispy and delicate among the symmetrically structured scales.

White Wing Scales (Low Magnification) - This low magnification image displays the fact that not all butterfly wing scales are alike, even when they come from the same specimen. A distinct difference can be seen between the piles of fluffy white wing scales and the surrounding smooth yellow scales.

White Wing Scales (Medium Magnification) - An increased magnification of the previous photomicrograph is displayed here. The mounds of white scales now dominate the image.

White Wing Scales (High Magnification) - Fluffy, white layers of wing scales are divided by dark veins in this high magnification image. The stark contrast in texture and colors makes this a particularly striking photomicrograph.

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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