Never Touch a Butterfly’s Wing With Your finger!!!

This question came up while I was talking to a friend the other day, and out of my intense curiosity I ended up doing some research on it this subject. Thought I would to share my findings with you guys.

When you touch a butterfly, you get dust on your hands. Ever wondered what it really is? I did, but never thought much about it, before. Butterflies and moths belonging to the genus Lepidoptera, meaning scale-wing, are named referring to the scale cell structures on its wings.

Butterfly has four wings; a pair of forewings and a pair of hind-wings. These wings are composed of two very fine membrane layers (chitonous) which are supported and nourished by tubular veins (also functions in breathing). Tiny sockets in these membranes hold each individual scale, providing further support to the delicate wing. The scales are arranged in such a pattern, overlapping each other like shingles on a roof. Butterfly wings will not be structurally sound and strong if you remove a bunch of them, thus harming the small insect. Ridges of our fingerprint, or oil on our skin, is more than enough to pry these wing scales loose, even with the slightest (caring) touch. The dust that comes off, when you touch a butterfly is its wing scales. Be careful next time you wish to touch it! You could endanger it’s life without meaning to harm at all.

The hindwing contains scent scales, which are modified wing scales, that release pheromones. This chemical, called androconia, attract opposite sex of the “same species”. There are often ultraviolet coloured patterns on the wings that are only visible to other butterflies.

Lovely patterns on butterfly wings are not only beautiful, but wonderful. Fluorescent patches on the wings functions similar to Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) which are found in everything from computer and television screens to traffic light. A LED developed at MIT uses two-dimensional photonic crystals with layered structures for controlling of emission direction. This was a huge step up in performance, compared to previous standards of LED. Researchers have shown that butterflies use an identical method for communicating to each other over long distance.

The beautifully coloured wings of butterflies manipulate light using engineering tricks similar to those found in digital displays. The wing scales which work like photonic crystals, absorb ultraviolet light and re-emit it. The re-emitted light interacts with fluorescent pigments to produce beautiful colours.

There’s so much science behind the beauty of butterfly.

Dedicated to those of you who adore butterfly!!!



Image taken from here.

Posted in Random Stuff and tagged , , .


  1. Anonymous says:

    wow…sum1 did the homework dho. hehe…

  2. .mini says:

    im sure munshi will love this!

  3. Good work. I wont touch a butterfly by it wings! Not after today!

    Hammett, just one question. How do we hold Pink butterfly, Blue butterfly and the other butterflies fluttering around the blogosphere?

  4. Hammett says:

    Med I – That’s good… πŸ™‚

    Butterflies in blogosphere huh… they are virtual.. e-butterflies.. u’ve to touch ’em with words.. so better be careful with what you say to them… sweet comments wouldn’t hurt them… πŸ˜‰

  5. Nessa says:

    This was good for me to know.

  6. c e e d y says:

    Thank you – that was interesting piece of infomration…..I would not like to disturb these beautiful creatures just as I dont like someone pulling my leg πŸ™‚

  7. Hammett says:

    anonymous – I’m not bad with homeworks .. though I always do it on the last minute.. πŸ˜‰

    Mini – πŸ˜€

  8. Hammett says:

    Nessa – glad u liked it .. πŸ™‚

    Ceedy – Thanks man… sure, you won’t…cheers!!

  9. kukulhu says:

    hmm i think i know who you were talking to.. to get butterfly in your mind……..dont ask i wont tell

  10. subcorpus says:

    i’ll admit that this is the longest article that i’ve ever read regarding an insect … is buttefly an isect … correct me if i’m wrong …
    But yeah … i’m with the lot who promise that they’ll never touch and harm a butterfly … the real ones …
    also i would like to add that butterfly are not the only ones you can hurt by touching … young birds come to mind … more my field …

    the irony of your comment …

  11. Mode says:

    i like what medical investigator said!

    hhehe very nice post!

  12. Hammett says:

    kukulhu – Cool!! won’t ask…

  13. Hammett says:

    Subcorpus – Thanks for taking time to read through… of course, butterfly is an insect.. it belogs to the insect group Lepidoptera(butterflies and moths)…


    glad to know that u’re on the good side… yep.. young birds could be very delicate… gud to add that…

    was ‘creatures’ the irony in ceedy’s comment.. :S

    thanks a lot.. cheers!!! πŸ™‚

  14. Hammett says:

    Mode – thanks dude… cheers!! πŸ™‚

  15. shaari says:

    it’s always nice to see a bit of research going into the posts. very informative piece about a beautiful being…

  16. Hammett says:

    shaari – Thanks for the nice comment.. cheers!!

  17. I-kko says:

    can’t thank u enuf hammet i always love catching em before nw that i know =) thnks

  18. derangedgirl says:

    i wasn’t aware of this before either. Surprising news for me.

  19. Hammett says:

    I-kko – no problem ikko…glad u liked it.. let the beauty fly around u… cheers.. πŸ™‚

  20. Hammett says:

    Deranged girl – Me neither… It was quite surprising..

    “Never touch a butterfly’s wing with your finger” is a quote.. i was trying to find the hidden meaning behind this…

    cheers!! πŸ™‚

  21. Margie says:

    I adore butterflies!
    Thanks for sharing this!
    I just love to see the beautiful creatures flutter around me!
    Never, ever shall I try to catch them!(which I have never done!)

    Take care!


  22. Hammett says:

    Margie – my pleasure.. how very nice of you… as u’ve never ever touched it, shows how much u care abt their freedom… why seize n bother ’em… thanks… take care… πŸ™‚

  23. kaiza shozey says:

    looks like uve really done ur research.hehe. nice bit of information. thanx.

    btw, half the comments here……*hint hint*

  24. @ly n@@shid says:

    I agree with medical investigator. One more question hamett. Wat ru doing there actually? Researching or doing the masters? hehe.. lol anyway nice work. well done

  25. gunj says:

    dat was really informative!! thanks!!

  26. Hammett says:

    kaiza koshey – Cool.. thanks ya!! got it.. hehe.. πŸ™‚

    Nashid – I’m doin gr8 in that.. research is involved in both.. hehe.. this is extra-curricular ;). see, i haven’t updated the blog lately, coz of exams…

    Gunj – glad that u found it informative.. thanks.. πŸ™‚

  27. I love these delicate and lovely creations of God,they add so much color to this world! πŸ™‚

    How’s exam prep going on btw πŸ˜‰

  28. Hammett says:

    Sameera – that’s nice.. πŸ™‚
    thanx 4 asking abt exam… it’s goin alright.. focus is the important thing which i keep on losing.. hehe.. got too much to cram now.. it could’ve been better if i haven’t being procrastinating.. i’m stressed :S .. gonna be done by Wednesday evening anyway.. i could spend more time in blogosphere then, instead of peeping every now and then… hehe.. cheers!! tc πŸ˜‰

  29. preetilata says:

    hi! fren! m first time on ur page n i hv loved it.

    thnx 4 this beautiful post. i love butterflies a lot. the colors n patterns on the wings hv alwys attracted me. i hv alwys wonderd abt the dust but nvr botherd to enquire abt it. thnx 4 all ths infos. next time i will nvr touch a bttrfly no mttr how how i wud wnt 2 do so.

    thnx for visiting my page n leaving ur beautiful n encouraging footprints thr in. hope u will agn visit my pg.

    tk cr
    πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  30. Hammett says:

    Preeti – u’re most welcome.. yea, there’s so much we’ve to learn abt nature.. that dust thing never bothered me before.. but glad that i did at last… hehe… thanks for visiting my place… and soon u gonna see some Haiku here… loved ur piece… cheers!! πŸ™‚

  31. Preethi says:

    That was very informative and very thoughtful of you to make at least a few of them aware. I cringe thinking how many butterflies i’ve touched just to have a closer look at it. I hope i didn’t kill any of them! I have heard that humans shud not touch the younglings of a sparrow ‘cos the scent of a human makes them unacceptable in their clan when they go back… there are so many things we don’t yet know. a very humbling fact.. have a nice day..

  32. Hammett says:

    Preeti – yeah. i hope u didn’t unintentionally harm them.. πŸ™‚

    I didn’t know that about sparrows before… obviously, there are so much we aren’t aware of. How helpful is internet, everything is ‘google’ away.. hehe.. nice day to u.. πŸ™‚

  33. I am really impressed with your post. Found this interesting to read, plus it contains a huge information that i haven’t been found ever since before. I really appreciate your time, effort and knowledge in sharing this kind of informative post. Lots of thank you! πŸ™‚

  34. Anonymous says:

    Also, butterflies taste with their feet so you don’t want them sitting on your finger or your hand either. The oils in your skin (not to mention lotion, sunblock, perfume, etc.) clog their taste buds so they have trouble finding food after. Look but don’t touch!