|Peacock butterfly Inachis io|
|One of the 'eyes' in the wing pattern - individual scales are clearly visible.|
|Near the base and front edge of the wing - again you can see individual scales.|
Browns and blackish colours are formed by melanin pigments in the scales - the same type of pigment that we have in our skin, hair and the irises of our eyes. However in most cases the brighter colours - reds, greens, blues and so on - occur because of iridescence caused by the microstructure scattering light in different wavelengths depending on the precise fine structure. If you have a microscope, the scales brush off easily without damaging the wing (you could use a small soft paintbrush then transfer them to a slide) so why not have a look at the scales - if you don't want to disturb a live butterfly or moth, you can wait until a dead one turns up. Happy scaling...