The insect with the most complex color vision

The blue bottle butterfly (Graphium sarpedon) has 15 types of photoreceptors that are sensitive to ultraviolet light and light visible to the human eye.

In this way, the butterfly overcomes the two photoreceptors in the eyes of cats, dogs and horses; all three of humans; and the four of most birds.

The blue bottle butterfly is native to South Asia and Australia, and is used to living in the rainforest canopy. Having such a large number of photoreceptors allows it to detect a huge variety of colors.

Thus, the species Graphium sarpedon have one receptor for ultraviolet light, another for violet, three that respond to different types of blue light, one for blue/green, four for green light, and five for variations of red.

The researchers suggest that blue bottle butterflies use only four classes of photoreceptors during their routine viewing, while the rest are used to detect very specific stimuli in the environment. For example, fast moving objects against the sky or colorful objects hidden among the vegetation.

The eyes of the blue bottle butterflies are large and, together with their iridescent bluish-green wings, are used for visual communication, evidencing their excellent degree of perception.

The butterfly is also known for fast flight and quick reactions. Consequently, it is difficult to catch. Their diet includes animal droppings and decaying insect carcasses.

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