Post 1 of ‘Learning about Lepidoptera’ Series!
If you look at the dazzling colours of butterflies and moths, the last thing that will probably come to your mind, is that its wings are completely covered by scales! Not scales as in the case of reptiles such as snakes or crocodiles, but scales nevertheless!
In fact, the pre-eminent biological characteristic of the group of insects we know as ‘butterflies and moths’ is precisely this – scaly wings! And it is from this feature that the scientific name for this order of insects comes!
Scales cover not only the wings of butterflies and moths! They are also found on the head, body and feet of many moths and butterflies.
The series of images below will help you realise why the scales play so important a role in classifying and naming this order of insects.
Lets now magnify some scales and see them very close up! Click on each image to enjoy nature’s fine architecture.
Scales not only give beautiful patterns but beautiful variations on basic patterns to different species.
Image credits : Wikimedia Commons
- Common Tortoise shell butterfly – Böhringer Friedrich.
- Lepidoptera Wing – Karol Kin.
- Loose butterfly scales – Jan Homann.
- Scanning Electron Micrographs of scales (1 to 4) – SecretDisc. Click the image to go to its Wikimedia Commons source page.
- Lepidoptera head with tongue – Dartmouth College Electron Microscope Facility.
- Plate from ‘MacroLepidoptera of the World‘ – Adalbert Seitz.