The Science Behind Butterfly Vision And Body Temperature : Short Wave – NPR

Monarch butterflies, like this one in Temascaltepec, Mexico, use ultraviolet polarized light to help them navigate in flight.

Omar Torres/AFP via Getty Images


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Omar Torres/AFP via Getty Images

Monarch butterflies, like this one in Temascaltepec, Mexico, use ultraviolet polarized light to help them navigate in flight.

Omar Torres/AFP via Getty Images

Adriana Briscoe, a professor of biology and ecology at UC Irvine, studies vision in butterflies. Turns out, butterflies are really cool. For instance, they can be trained to detect light of a certain color — which she’s done as part of her research.

Adriana also answers questions you might’ve never thought to ask like: Why they bask in the sunlight? And why do some of them have ‘hearts’ in their wings?

Plus, you’ll never guess where their photoreceptors are.

We also discuss the importance of teachers and mentors in diversifying the STEM fields, which Adriana has written about.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

This episode was produced by Rebecca Ramirez and Brent Baughman, edited by Deb George, and fact-checked by Rebecca Ramirez.

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