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.…

Love is a carousel: courting Marsh fritillaries!

Marsh fritillaries, Euphydryas aurinia (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae), are one of my favourite butterflies. The beautiful tapestry of yellow, orange and black colours on their wings creates a stunningly attractive pattern, especially when contrasted against the bright pink colour of a flower. The beautiful appearance of butterflies is, I think, even more attractive when we discover something…

Iridescent emperor butterflies

Last year I came across these beautiful Indian purple emperors (Mimathyma ambica) at the, now famous site, for viewing mud puddling butterflies in northern Thailand. There is something about the sandy soil at this site in Chiang Dao, which attracts many butterflies from the surrounding forest. It is almost entirely males of each species which…