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The perception of polarized light is a tool butterflies use to enhance the contrast of objects independent of wavelength and brightness. Previous studies have demonstrated the usefulness of this tool for mate recognition, especially in complex lighting environments such as forests; however, they have left some basic questions about butterfly scales’ polarization properties unanswered. Here I investigate the Brewster angle of butterfly scales, what degree of linear polarization is relevant to butterflies’ perception, and whether or not my findings support the habitat-based polarization theory. Through examining the light polarizing properties of Danaus plexippus, Limenitis Archippus, and two varieties of Papilio troilus, I found Brewster angles varied between species/variety and scale type, proposed relevant values for degree of linear polarization in mate recognition, and found that these specimens do conform to the proposed habitat-based polarization theory.
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Beneroff, Ethan, "Butterfly Scales’ Light Polarizing Properties" (2021). Senior Projects Spring 2021. 19.
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