Subtle design changes control the difference in colour reflection from the dorsal and ventral wing-membrane surfaces of the damselfly Matronoides cyaneipennis
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The hind wings of males of the damselfly Matronoides cyaneipennis exhibit iridescence that is blue dorsally and green ventrally. These structures are used semiotically in agonistic and courtship display. Transmission electron microscopy reveals these colours are due to two near-identical 5-layer distributed Bragg reflectors, one placed either side of the wing membrane. Interestingly the thicknesses of corresponding layers in each distributed Bragg reflector are very similar for all but the second layer from each outer surface. This one key difference creates the significant disparity between the reflected spectra from the distributed Bragg reflectors and the observed colours of either side of the wing. Modelling indicates that modifications to the thickness of this layer alone create a greater change in the peak reflected wavelength than is observed for similar modifications to the thickness of any other layer. This results in an optimised and highly effective pair of semiotic reflector systems, based on extremely comparable design parameters, with relatively low material and biomechanical costs.
© 2013 OSA. This paper was published in Optics Express and is made available as an electronic reprint with the permission of OSA. The paper can be found at the following URL on the OSA website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OE.21.001479. Systematic or multiple reproduction or distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.
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