Iridescence on the Fly

July 14, 2013


Photographer: Jurgen de Boer; Jurgen's Web site
Summary Authors
: Jurgen de Boer; Jim Foster 

This up close view of a noon fly (Mesembrina meridiana) sitting on my window sill displays a multitude of iridescent colors. It's not pigmentation but rather diffraction of sunlight that results in these metallic hues. The cells and tiny platelets that compose its eyes, hairs, mouth parts and other portions of its head and are of just the right thickness and transparency to deflect the sunlight impinging upon them. The light is deflected in all directions in such a way that waves of light interfere with each other -- sometimes constructively (brighter colors and intensities) and sometimes destructively (duller coloration and intensities). Photo taken on June 4, 2013, in Amersfoort, Netherlands. See also tomorrow's Earth Science Picture of the Day.

Photo details: Camera Model: Canon EOS 60D; Focal Length: 121.0mm; Aperture: f/6.3; Exposure Time: 0.0080 s (1/125); ISO equiv: 400; Flash Fired: Yes (Auto, return light detected); Software: ACD Systems Digital Imaging.