This image is a 60-frame Helicon Focus-stacked image of the eye region of a Hornet. Camera Canon 5D MkII and research trinocular microscope.
As it has been drizzling all day I have been doing some microscopy while my wife worked in the greenhouse. Knowing I was working with the microscope she brought me in a dead butterfly from the greenhouse. It went straight under the microscope for a 22-frame focus-stacked image stitched together using that brilliant piece of software Helicon Focus.
The irridescent blue seen in this macrophoto of a Morpho Rhetenor butterfly is due to structural colour – not pigment. The butterfly’s wing scales have microstructure which act like a specialised diffraction grating, so it is an interference/diffraction grating effect that gives the striking blue colour – visible over a wide range of angles. It is in fact an example of a natural photonic crystal structure – something that I researched for a few years at the University of Southampton. Possibly one of the most impressive Icons of Science meeting Art 🙂
See my 20-page Review Article titled “Biomimetically Inspired Photonic Nanomaterials” for more information.