Wavelength–selective and anisotropic light–diffusing scale on the wing of the Morpho butterfly

Shinya Yoshioka, Shuichi Kinoshita

Abstract

We have found that cover scales on the wing of the butterfly Morpho didius possess specially designed microscopic structures for wavelength–selective reflection and contribute considerably to the brilliant blue colour of the wing. In addition, the cover scale functions as an anisotropic optical diffuser which diffuses light only in one plane, while it makes the range of reflection narrower in the orthogonal plane. The quantitative analyses for the wavelength–selection mechanism and the peculiar optical diffuser are given and the role of such a special optical effect is discussed from physical and biological viewpoints.