Weekly Dose of Wonder- What is it?

What is it? An alien pod? No. And alien something. It has to be something alien, right? Nope.

This is a Scanning Electron Micrograph (SEM) of a butterfly egg. Specifically, the egg of the Zebra Longwing. The orange coloration of the egg warns predators of its toxicity. The egg contains cyanide and other toxins ingested from the plants they eat and passed on by the adult butterflies to protect their eggs.

The Zebra Longwing happens to be the state butterfly for the state of Florida. I have these flocking by the hundreds in my back yard. The caterpillars devour my native passionflower vines and the adults have a lovely habit of clustering by the dozens in the lower branches of my oak trees. If you step into the shade anywhere in my yard right now, you will be immediately surrounded by long-winged fluttering forms.


  1. Very cool, Kris! When I was a kid, I always loved those segments in Highlights magazine where you had to try and guess what the closeup picture segment was. This totally reminds me of that! I love seeing art in the details like this. One of my old manuscripts that I haven't worked on in a while gets into seeing art in science, specifically under a microscope. Not that I'm as qualified as you to talk about that though! Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Thanks Erin! It's funny you mention the Highlights magazines. My mom used to be a contributing writer for Highlights and I think we have a billion back-issues stacked in our basement to this day. I used to love those puzzles too!

    And your MS sounds fantastic! I LOVE that kind of thing. (Obviously *grin*)I would love hear more about it sometime. :)