Research, Science & environment

How a butterfly builds its wings

A new video from the California Academy of Sciences shows Berkeley scientists using time-lapse microscopy to show how butterfly wings develop their fragile structures and beautiful colors.


Nipam Patel started collecting butterflies when he was 8. Now an evolutionary and developmental biologist at UC Berkeley, Patel and his team are using innovative techniques to try to figure out something that’s fascinated but eluded scientists for years: How butterflies develop their extraordinary colors and patterns.

A new video from the California Academy of Sciences, posted on its bioGraphic website, takes viewers inside Patel’s lab to watch how the scientists are literally opening windows into butterflies and, using time-lapse microscopy, showing exactly how they build their structures and colors. Watch it here: