Insect wings
January 5, 2011 10:49 AM   Subscribe

Amazing World of Insect-Wing Color Discovered "A closer look at seemingly drab, transparent insect wings has revealed realms of previously unappreciated color, visible to the naked eye yet overlooked for centuries. Until now, the wing colors of many flies and wasps were dismissed as random iridescence. But they may be as distinctive and marvelous as the much-studied, much-celebrated wings of butterflies and beetles." The paper (pdf) was published in PNAS.
posted by dhruva (10 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I love this but you'd think with something so potential beautiful they would use a decent camera to take the photos :S
posted by Newcott at 11:00 AM on January 5, 2011

Dude, this would make totally sweet wallpaper for the head shop.

(This is cool, thanks.)
posted by Gator at 11:03 AM on January 5, 2011

This is pretty awesome.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:03 AM on January 5, 2011

You know when you're young (or stoned) and ask someone, "how do you know that the color red I see is the same as the color red you see?"

This is a like that.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:14 AM on January 5, 2011

So cool! I love the spotty one - but the whole "unseen til now" thing makes me feel like I'm perving on their underwear. Their spotty dotty insect underwear.
posted by Raunchy 60s Humour at 11:17 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

These are really beautiful! It makes me wonder what the insects look like to each other in the spectrum of light they see.
posted by chatongriffes at 11:35 AM on January 5, 2011

insects look like to each other

This paper is a big problem for me, since I am currently working on how jumping spiders attack flies, and how the markings of certain flies may mimic the leg patterns of jumping spiders, I was assuming that I could ignore the transparent area of the wings and focus on the markings, but now, it's a whole different kettle of fish.
posted by dhruva at 11:50 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Some insects can see polarized light. I wonder what these iridescent patterns would look like - has anybody photographed these wings through polarized lenses?
posted by Quietgal at 4:13 PM on January 5, 2011

In 1973 my grandfather gave me a microscope for Christmas. I was 9. The very first slide I made held a tiny piece of cicada wing.

I saw those very same colours.

This Christmas past, I gave my 9 year old daughter a microscope.

With a slide I made for her that held a tiny piece of cicada wing.
posted by Duke999R at 8:17 PM on January 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

This is awesome... mainly because it provokes further questions as to the genetic regulation of iridescent patterns. They speculate, but do not assay. Low hanging fruit that.
Unlike pigmentation, which has been somewhat well studied in flies (Sean Carroll et al) where the essential pigment genes and their regulation is reasonably understood, I'll hazard that few people know what genes can regulate the orientation of defractive proteins and the thickness of wings. What a beautiful phenotype to study.

(when I showed this paper to some of my colleagues, we agreed that some figures, like Figure 5, are so wondrous that you just want to strip the stupid letters off them, print a high resolution poster out and hang it on your wall)
posted by Cold Lurkey at 8:19 PM on January 5, 2011

« Older Gorgon Stare   |   (Nothing I can do) a Partial Eclipse of the Sun... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments