If you have never seen a glasswing butterfly, don’t feel too bad. You will find them in Central and South America, but if you do ever have the opportunity to study them, they are worth a look. The “Greta Oto” is the name that is assigned to this unique creature, but they’re also called the “glasswing butterfly” for a specific reason. When you look at their wings, it looks as if you are seeing through cathedral glass.
You can find this unique butterfly as far south as Chile, and at times, you can find them as far north as Texas. They are part of the largest family of butterflies in the world, Nymphalidae. There are some 6,000 species in that family worldwide.
The transparency that the butterfly is able to achieve is because of a lack of pigment in the wings. In addition, they are covered in waxy nanopillars that keep the wings from being reflective. These nanopillars are so small that they are smaller than visible light, so they scatter the light rather than reflecting it off the wing.
This butterfly may appear fragile, but it is actually quite resilient. Imagine being able to carry 40 times your body weight! In addition, they eat toxins that make the butterfly taste bad to birds. That’s a neat trick.
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