Butterfly Eyes – How Do They See Colour?

Butterfly eyes are unique and function differently compared to the human eye. Although butterflies may not have a human’s sharp eye, there vision beats ours in other ways!  The different colours and patterns that butterflies can see are invisible to the human eye. This is because their eyes are better at picking up fast moving objects and they can distinguish ultraviolet and polarised light, which the human eye cannot.

Butterfly eyes are made up of many smaller image forming eyes called ommatidia. One of the main advantages of these eyes is that it provides the animal with increased wide field of vision. In fact, it is said that a butterfly can see approximately 314 degrees around itself. This helps them identify potential predators and food or water sources.

As part of your guided tour, you get the chance you experience what it is like to view the world through the eyes of a butterfly. As you finish your exploration through the Butterfly Sanctuary laboratory, you will eventually reach a dark room with pictures hanging up. Once inside, you can switch on the ultraviolet light. This will imitate how butterflies actually see the world. You will witness the pictures hanging up start to glow and stand out from the rest. You will notice that the colours that tend to stand out are the same colours of most of the flowers that these butterflies feed from. As they fly around, the colours of these flowers glow and attract the butterflies.

When you visit our park, to increase the chances of butterflies hanging around you or even landing on you, there are a few colours you should try include on your clothing. First off is white. Under the UV light, butterfly eyes see it as a bright glow, and this is why all of our team members in the aviary have white on their shirts. Furthermore, the butterfly eye is also drawn to the glowing pink and red colours which often appear on or near a flower.

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If you would like to learn more, come see us at the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary and let our experienced team members guide you through the park. Contact us now for prices and tour times