Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Physiological Colour Change in the Hercules Beetle

Abstract

THE Hercules beetle, Dynastes Hercules L., can change the colour of its elytra—horny fore-wings—from black to greenish yellow and back again to black all within a few minutes. It does this in a way previously unknown among insects. Apart from the reversible migrations of pigment granules in the iris cells, physiological or rapidly reversible colour changes are very rare in insects1–4. Among beetles, Coptocyclia5, Aspidomorpha, and many other Cassidinae can change the colour of their elytra by varying the amount of water in the cuticle and thereby the thickness of the thin films responsible for the interference colours.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1

    Griesberg, H., Z. Vergl. Physiol., 7, 657 (1928).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Key, K. H. L., and Day, M. F., Austral. J. Zool., 2, 309 (1954).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Kopenec, A., Z. Vergl. Physiol., 31, 490 (1949).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    O'Farrell, A. F., Austral. J. Sci., 25, 437 (1963).

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Mason, C. W., Entomol. News, 40, 52 (1929).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

HINTON, H., JARMAN, G. Physiological Colour Change in the Hercules Beetle. Nature 238, 160–161 (1972). https://doi.org/10.1038/238160a0

Download citation

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing