5 years ago

Varying and unchanging whiteness on the wings of dusk-active and shade-inhabiting Carystoides escalantei butterflies [Evolution]

Varying and unchanging whiteness on the wings of dusk-active and shade-inhabiting Carystoides escalantei butterflies [Evolution]
Daniel H. Janzen, John M. Burns, Gaoxiang Wu, Winnie Hallwachs, Hye-Na Kim, Shu Yang, Lili Yang, Dengteng Ge

Whiteness, although frequently apparent on the wings, legs, antennae, or bodies of many species of moths and butterflies, along with other colors and shades, has often escaped our attention. Here, we investigate the nanostructure and microstructure of white spots on the wings of Carystoides escalantei, a dusk-active and shade-inhabiting Costa Rican rain forest butterfly (Hesperiidae). On both males and females, two types of whiteness occur: angle dependent (dull or bright) and angle independent, which differ in the microstructure, orientation, and associated properties of their scales. Some spots on the male wings are absent from the female wings. Whether the angle-dependent whiteness is bright or dull depends on the observation directions. The angle-dependent scales also show enhanced retro-reflection. We speculate that the biological functions and evolution of Carystoides spot patterns, scale structures, and their varying whiteness are adaptations to butterfly’s low light habitat and to airflow experienced on the wing base vs. wing tip.

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