Why are Butterflies So Colorful

Butterflies are one of the most colorful and vibrant insects found in nature. As they fly, the vivid colors on their wings give off a shining appearance that looks fascinating to the observers. Butterflies use their intense colors for attracting mates, or as a camouflage and warning signal.

Why do Most Butterflies have Such Intense Colors

Butterflies have two types of colors, including the structural color and pigmented or ordinary color, which come from two different sources.

The first is the structural color that comes from a specific structure of their wings created by the multiple layers of scales that cover the wings. It is because of this structure, the structural color shimmers and shifts when an observer moves. This light effect is called iridescence.

The other color type is the pigmented color produced by ordinary chemical pigments, which can absorb specific wavelengths of light while reflecting the others. The colors you see are the wavelengths of light that are reflected.

Interesting Facts

  • The diet of caterpillars affects the color of the chrysalis. It is because the chemicals present in flowers, seeds, and leaves influence the color of butterfly chrysalis.
  • Adult Monarch butterflies have a distinctive orange color and pattern, which serves as a warning signal to predators that it is toxic or distasteful.