Look Closely, You Will See

scales of eyespot of owl butterfly

The fine arrangement and beautiful pattern of scales of an owl butterfly’s wing.

Butter flies and so does time! Two years back I posted a photo of an owl butterfly’s eyespot. This latest photo magnifies the subject more and improves on the fine detail. Order Lepidoptera, translating into “scaly wing,”  comprises the moths, butterflies and skippers. We usually consider scales as the fashion of reptiles and fish, but the “butterfly dust” shed from the wings of Lepidoptera is the small, delicate scales that cover their wings. The endless colors and intricate patterns of these scales have evolved to resemble lichen, tree bark, bird feces, dead leaves, etc. The patterns that resemble eyes of larger animals, as in the above, stand out as much as any. The “Lep” can quickly flash the so-called eyespot to give the appearance of a larger creature which will (hopefully) scare the predator off or at least startle it for long enough to escape. I’m not sure how many people they have fooled, but I don’t see many running away from those colors.


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