Butterfly wing scales, SEM

Butterfly wing scales, SEM

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Credit: MANFRED KAGE/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Butterfly wing scales. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of scales attached to the wing of an unidentified butterfly (order Lepidoptera, meaning "scale-wing" in Greek). A butterfly wing is covered in these tiny scales that are modified hairs (setae). They are made of chitin, the main component of insect exoskeletons. The iridescence of the colours of a butterfly's wings is produced by the diffraction of light by the microscopic structure of these scales. Magnification unknown.

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Keywords: animal, butterfly, chitin, chitinous, colour, coloured, colourful, diffraction, insect, insecta, invertebrate, invertebrates, iridescence, lepidoptera, nature, scale, scales, scanning electron micrograph, sem, seta, setae, wildlife, wing, winged, zoology

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