Popular Science

Scientists are puzzling out how butterflies assemble their brightly colored scales

Shine bright like a butterfly
butterflies in a line


Butterflies can thank nanocrystal structures for their lovely colors.

From the danger-sign orange of Monarch butterflies, to the regal blues of the Blue Morpho, butterflies come in a veritable rainbow of colors.

The insects display those incredible hues thanks to scales on their wings. Those scales are made up of crystals, which are made up of a sugar molecule called chitin (the same stuff that makes up insect exoskeletons and mushrooms

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Popular Science

Popular Science2 min readScience
Lavender Might Actually Help You Relax
Lavender Fields You can almost smell the serenity through the computer screen. Pixabay Having a bad day? Light a lavender candle and let all your stress waft away. Immersing yourself in a lavender cloud may actually help reduce anxiety, according to
Popular Science3 min read
How To Book A Good Hotel Room At The Best Possible Price
Sleep well—without worrying about all the money you're spending on your hotel room. Philipp Balunovic via Unsplash Travel gets very expensive very fast—and one of the biggest costs is the hotel room. But with all the discounts and deal-hunting sites
Popular Science5 min read
The Oldest Weapons In North America Offer A New View Of Prehistoric Tech
A 15,000 year old stemmed point. Texas A&M University History exists in the past, but that doesn’t mean it’s static. New findings, published Wednesday in Science Advances, illustrate the discovery of a dozen projectile points at the Debra L. Friedkin