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Revista de Biología Tropical

On-line version ISSN 0034-7744Print version ISSN 0034-7744


HERNANDEZ-CHAVARRIA, Francisco; HERNANDEZ, Alejandro  and  SITTENFELD, Ana. The "windows ",scales,and bristles of the tropical moth Rothschildia lebeau (Lepidoptera:Saturniidae). Rev. biol. trop [online]. 2004, vol.52, n.4, pp.919-926. ISSN 0034-7744.

The common Spanish name of the moth Rothschildia lebeau (Saturniidae)is cuatro ventanas (four ‘windows ’),because it exhibits a transparent oval path in each wing.The scales of the colored areas and the bristles from the "window "were analyzed.We developed a simple device to measure transmittance across the "windows "with an spectrophotometer.A square section of "window "was mounted onto a flat black card and placed onto a clamp that hung in the path of the light -beam of the spectrophotometer.Absorbance was measured at 350 and 550 nm,with the "window "positioned perpendicular to the light beam (incidence of 90 °);then the measurements were repeated with the "window "moved at an angle of 45 °.Each measurement was replicated 5 times.Wing color spots were analyzed with a light dissection microscope (stereoscope)and with scanning electron microscopy.The scales have a minimum of 4 morphological types,3 of them showed the typical appearance of unspecialized scales described for other butterflies; whereas the fourth has features particular to this species. On the "window "the scales are transformed in hair-like bristles that do not interfere with light, conferring the transparency that characterizes the "windows ".However,if the wing is illuminated at an almost grazing-incidence,they reflect the light as a mirror.Two hypothetical functional explanation for the windows are mimicry and interspecies communication.Rev.Biol.Trop.52(4):919-926.Epub 2005 Jun 24.

Keywords : Scales microstructure; bristles; scanning electron microscopy; moth; interspecies communication; light reflections; Rothschildia lebeau .

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