Letter | Published:

Visual adaptation in butterflies


THE brilliant glow appearing in the compound eye of butterflies has intrigued investigators of insect eyes since the observations of Exner1. Miller and Bernard have presented a convincing optical interpretation of the butterfly glow, that the tracheole basal to the rhabdom is modified in such a way as to act as a quarter wavelength interference reflection filter (see refs 2–4). On light adaptation, the eye glow vanishes rapidly1. Miller and Bernard have conjectured that this is caused by a distal migration of pigment granules in the pigment cells surrounding the crystalline cone2.

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