Journal of comparative physiology

, Volume 79, Issue 2, pp 191–196 | Cite as

Spectral sensitivity of the compound eye in butterflies (Heliconius)

  • Göran Struwe


The spectral sensitivity of the compound eye in three butterfly species (Heliconius erato, H. numata, H, sara) was tested electrophysiologically in the wavelength region 310 to 650 nm. Sensitivity maxima were found at 370 to 390 nm, 450 to 470 nm, and 550 to 570 nm, for all species. The three sensitivity maxima are suggested to be due to different photoreceptor types effecting wave-length discrimination. An interspecies difference in spectral sensitivity was also found. The difference is suggested to be due to the relative number of photoreceptors of each type. In some of the present experiments a small discontinuity in sensitivity was found at 610 or 630 nm. It is probably caused by a selective reflection of these wavelengths from a tapetum.


Reflection Present Experiment Relative Number Wavelength Region Spectral Sensitivity 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • Göran Struwe
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden

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