|The wide range of colors that insects exhibit is a feature of their chitin* shells. The tiny, delicate scales on a butterfly's wing are made of chitin, and the iridescent colors are produced by microscopic ridges on these minute scales, which diffract light in a way that reflects a specific color. A rigid exoskeleton* does restrict the growth of an insect, and they get around this problem by growing a new shell underneath the old one. The old layer of chitin is then shed, and the layer underneath soon hardens into a new, larger exoskeleton.|
|Insects are voracious eaters. They consume more animal flesh than lions, tigers, wolves, crocodiles, and alligators combined. The daily amount of food consumed by a single swarm of African desert locusts is greater than the amount eaten by New York's entire population of humans. 50% of all organic material produced by green plants is ultimately consumed by insects.||
The patterns on the wings of butterflies are created by microscopic ridges on the wing "scales". Photo by Maya Walters.
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