At butterflies two pairs of wings – in them beauty of these fragile creations. Patterned “fan” (and also the body of butterflies) are usually covered with scales. These are modified hairs that are found on the wings of many insects. The number of flakes can be very high – several hundred thousand in some species!
Their form and purpose are different. First of all, there are pigment and optical scales that determine the color of the wings. The first contain a melanin coloring substance and are responsible for the basic coloring. And the latter can reflect and refract the light that falls on them. Thanks to this, the wings of butterflies are made metallic-shiny and iridescent – they are especially beautiful in tropical butterflies.
The color of the wings of males and females is often quite different. This phenomenon biologists call sexual dimorphism in color. Moreover, rarely, but there are individuals that combine the wings of both sexes: on the left – with the color of the male, on the right – the females, or vice versa. Such genetically distorted specimens are called “gynandromorphs”.
The most striking example of this kind is the gynandromorphs of the Ornithoptera-Priamus living on New Guinea and the surrounding islands. In the normal state the males of the Priamus are much smaller than the females. This explains the appearance of the mutants: a bright green with a black half of the male is combined with a much larger and pale colored half of the female.