Insect antennae II.

Adult insects rely on their antennae to detect odours (smells!) which tell them all about what’s happening in their neighbourhood. Whether there is anything to eat nearby; whether there are any members of the opposite sex looking for a partner; who else is about, and so on. They wave their wonderful wands around and pick…

Insect cuticle

We mammals are quite fortunate in having bones! They reside inside us, and our skeleton grows as we grow. Insects on the other hand, have an external skeleton, or exoskeleton, and must shed it periodically, as they enlarge in size. The insect cuticle is secreted by a single layer of epidermal cells that covers the entire…

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…

Iridescent feathers of pigeons

Rock doves, or common pigeons (Columba livia), like those shown here have iridescent green and purple feathers around their necks. Both males and females show these iridescent colours, although females tend to have less iridescence than males. Iridescence means that the colours change according to the angle of view (or angle of illumination). So as the…