From Deep Look.
Ever wanted to be invisible? The elusive glasswing butterfly knows just how to do it. Its transparent wings, covered in an anti-glare nano-coating, help it hide from its predators in the rainforest.
DEEP LOOK is a ultra-HD (4K) short video series created by KQED San Francisco and presented by PBS Digital Studios. See the unseen at the very edge of our visible world. Explore big scientific mysteries by going incredibly small.
Bay Area biologists are studying a beautiful and exotic butterfly with the hope that their findings may one day improve technologies from eyeglasses to solar panels.
Named for their transparent wings, glasswing butterflies have evolved a clever disappearing act to avoid their many predators in the rainforests of South and Central America.
“Most things in the rainforest are either bright and flashy or they’re trying their best to hide,” said Aaron Pomerantz, a doctoral candidate in the Nipam Patel Lab at UC Berkeley and the Marine Biological Laboratory. “There aren’t a lot of things that are just trying to be invisible like the glasswings.”
What are butterfly wings made of?
A butterfly’s wings are mainly composed of chitin, the same tough flexible material that their exoskeleton is made of. Most butterflies’ wings and bodies are covered in row after row of tiny scales that protect the butterfly and keep water from sticking to their wing which would weigh them down.
What do butterflies eat?
Most butterflies use a long proboscis to drink nectar from flowers. As caterpillars, they mostly eat plants
Why do butterflies have bright colors?
Some butterflies try to stand out by using bright colors and clashing patterns that serve as a warning to predators. These butterflies typically eat plants rich in chemicals as caterpillars that make them poisonous or distasteful. This type of warning signal is called aposematism.
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The Patel Lab of Evolutionary Development at the Marine Research Institute in Woods Hole, MA
—+ More Great Deep Look episodes:
What Gives the Morpho Butterfly Its Magnificent Blue? | Deep Look
Why Is The Very Hungry Caterpillar So Dang Hungry? | Deep Look
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🏆Congratulations🏆 to the following fans on our Deep Look Community Tab for being the first five to correctly identify the microscopic waxy structures that stop the glare on glasswing butterfly’s wings: nanopillars!
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