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April 10, 2021

Glasswing Butterfly

From My Modern Met:

The glasswing butterfly (scientifically known as Greta oto) might be the most beautiful bug you have never heard of.

Its delicate wings have a frame of orange and white similar to the monarch butterfly.

However, the rest of their wings are made of flawless clear panes that look like windows.

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Their unique wings serve two purposes: the white stripe warns predators of toxicity, and the clear panes allow the butterfly to disappear into its surroundings, making it near invisible.

From their early caterpillar stage, glasswing butterflies lack pigment in their chitin, a key element in insect exoskeletons and butterfly wings.

Without pigment, the wings are colorless and — because of their thinness — transparent.

To further protect against predators, the wings are equipped with many tiny nanopillars (wax towers which form a rough texture upon microscopic inspection of a wing's surface).

A rough texture prevents the surface from being reflective, creating an illusion of almost empty panes.

April 10, 2021 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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