Iridescence in insects

Iridescence is when surfaces – such as the wings of butterflies – appear to change brightness and colour as the angle of view, or the angle of illumination, changes. The iridescent wings of Morpho butterflies are some of the best examples. The spectral reflectance changes with the angle of incidence – i.e. the viewing angle…

Silver-washed fritillary courtship behaviour

The courtship behaviour of the silver-washed fritillary, Argynnis paphia (Heliconiinae, Argynnini), is described in most books or websites about butterflies. Here’s how I described it in my book on Courtship and mating in butterflies. The male …. performs a unique pursuit flight, swooping down beneath the female, then darting up in front of her, until…

Just a bunch of weeds? Birds and bees on the slopes of the Futurist site, Scarborough

This site was created following the demolition of the old Futurist theatre on Scarborough seafront.  Demolition of the building began in June 2018 and was completed in August 2018. A process called ‘slope stabilisation’ created an area of sloping ground (below) which, in this year of lockdown, has filled up with wild flowers. Some might…

Butterflies with black wings

Black. We all know what it is. The absence of light; the opposite of white. But are there gradations of black? Are some blacks blacker than others? The answer is most assuredly yes, and scientists have recently developed super black products with incredibly efficient light absorbing properties. For example, Vantablack – a material developed by…

Order, order! Insect diversity.

If insects could talk – English preferably! – I would like to ask them what they think is the key to their great success! In particular, I would like to ask a member of each Order of insects, to describe the main innovations and adaptations which have led to the success of their particular group.…