SUSUMU NISHINAGA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SUSUMU NISHINAGA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Butterfly wing. Image 3 of 6. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of scales on a wing from an unidentified butterfly (order Lepidoptera, meaning "scale-wing" in Greek). A butterfly wing is covered in many tiny scales that are modified hairs (setae). These are made of chitin, a common substance in 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: x158 at 6x7cm size. For a sequence that magnifies the wing of a butterfly down to the light-diffracting scale structures, see images Z355/692-697.
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