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|© John Pickering, 2004-2019|
|Various mechanisms affect insect cuticle color. Cuticle melanism is one. It increases darkness and affects important fitness components, including cuticle strength and protection against ultraviolet radiation and natural enemies, such as entomopathogenic fungi. The production of melanin, which is a pigment molecule, is regulated by the enzyme phenoloxidase. Cuticle darkness generally decreases with a rise in the temperature that an insect experiences during development. It is also affected by the humidity level during development. The Eastern Hercules Beetle, Dynastes tityus, shown here is unusual amongst insects. It has another mechanism. It is capable of changing the color or its exoskeleton from light to dark with increasing humidity. It uses thin film interference by modifying the thickness of the layer. Its color change is reversible and can occur within a few minutes. Here one elytra is dark; the other light, giving the beetle a distinct bilateral asymmetry in color.|
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Updated: 2020-03-30 10:11:10 gmt
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