They’re more than just flashy colors.
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There’s no mistaking the beauty of butterflies.
But besides their eye-catching colors, these insects are incredibly important pollinators for ecosystems worldwide.
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They also help contain pests and provide nutrients to the species that snack on them.
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Their lives are full of curious events, from metamorphosis to migration as adults.
But in recent years, scientists have captured some incredible moments that give new insight into some of the world’s most captivating insects.
Here are 7 incredible views into butterfly life:
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Researchers writing November 22 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences imaged the growth of microscopic scales on the wings of Painted Lady butterflies.
Blue Morpho butterflies living in the Amazon have distinct flight patterns depending on which strata of the rainforest they occupy, write researchers in the journal Science on November 25.
When they’re hungry, monarch butterfly caterpillars will headbutt each other as they compete for food.
Monarch butterflies eat milkweed — a plant that is toxic to humans and many other animals. Such is the case for this blue jay puking up the remnants of a monarch it tried to eat.
Mark Chappell, UC Riverside
But a November 22 study in Current Biology reports that some species of animals have evolved to digest milkweed toxins, too, all for the purpose of eating monarchs.
This is a glasswing butterfly, known for its transparent wings. It even sports a sort of antiglare coating, so that predators can’t see it glint in the sunlight.
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Writing in the Journal of Experimental Biology in May, researchers discovered that the wing scales on these species develop differently than other butterflies, even from the earliest stages of growth.
Watching butterflies take off in a wind tunnel helped a team of researchers map out the curved “clapping” motion that these insects use to make themselves airborne.
Butterflies see color differently than us. One research team mapped out the photoreceptive proteins called ospins in the eye of an atala hairstreak butterfly.