Friday, July 09, 2010

Bumpy eyes

The last couple of days, I've been finding orange underwing moths sleeping in unexpected places. I move a plant, and a moth I hadn't seen flies away. Dust off an outside chair; another. They usually startle me, since they sleep on surfaces that match their brown wings, and I don't see them until they fly away, sometimes from between my fingers.

This one picked the wrong spot: I moved a dishrack in the kitchen, and there he was, sleeping in plain sight. I managed to get a photo or two before he left.

Sleeping with his eyes open. No choice; he has no eyelids.

Moths are night-flying insects. If you go out in the dark with a flashlight, you can often see bright spots, in pairs; insect eyes. (Or cats' eyes.) You won't see the moths, though. Their eyes have rows of tiny bumps, smaller than the wavelength of light, that absorb the light rather than reflect it.
The structure consists of a hexagonal pattern of tapered bumps, each roughly 200 nm (nanometres) high... Wikipedia
Scientists now are developing non-reflective display screens, solar cells, windshields and lenses based on the moths' eye structure. Because the light isn't reflected, more light gets through the glass, improving the harnessing of energy from the sun in solar cells, and visibility in lenses and windshields. And I'm looking at a clock calendar on my desk now; from the wrong angle, all I see is the reflection of my face, and the double reflection off my glasses. A non-reflective coating would enable me to read the clock from any position.

Smart moths!

Awake, and getting ready to leave.

Moth season has finally started. More coming up!

1 comment:

  1. How interesting about moth eyes. I didn't know that!

    I have also been finding there are more moths than usual - they fly up from seemingly nowhere and surprise me!

    I'm sorry for not commenting for a while - I've been busy, then sick. But I'm back now, and will be trying to catch up on my reading!


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