How to build a butterfly!

The upper wing surfaces of butterflies are often brightly coloured and visually highly apparent (above), whilst the undersides are usually fairly dull and inconspicuous (below). Although this characterisation is a gross generalisation – there are plenty of exceptions – these differences between the two wing surfaces, do reflect their contrasting functions: upper surfaces are used…

Distractive markings on lepidopteran wings

The Comma (Polygonia c–album) is a familiar butterfly, seen throughout most of England and Wales in the summer. Most people will have looked at the white ‘comma’ mark on the underside of the hindwing, and many will have wondered what is it for? One, slightly controversial theory, is that it is a ‘distractive’ marking; something…

Camouflage – in whose eyes?

When we look at beautifully camouflaged insects, such as certain butterfly species which look so much like the leaves or vegetation of their environment, we sometimes forget that they are not camouflaged for our eyes, but for those of their would be predators, which might have better eyes than us (like a hawk or owl).…