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The effects produced by the condensation of water vapor from the environment in the various intricate nanoarchitectures occurring in the wing scales of several Lepidoptera species were investigated by controlled cooling (from 23° C, room temperature to -5 to -10° C) combined with in situ measurements of changes in the reflectance spectra. It was determined that all photonic nanoarchitectures giving a reflectance maximum in the visible range and having an open nanostructure exhibited alteration of the position of the reflectance maximum associated with the photonic nanoarchitectures. The photonic nanoarchitectures with a closed structure exhibited little to no alteration in color. Similarly, control specimens colored by pigments did not exhibit a color change under the same conditions. Hence, this method can be used to identify species with open photonic nanoarchitectures in their scales. For certain species, an almost complete disappearance of the reflectance maximum was found. All specimens recovered their original colors following warming and drying. Cooling experiments using thin copper wires demonstrated that color alterations could be limited to a width of a millimeter or less. Dried museum specimens did not exhibit color changes when cooled in the absence of a heat sink due to the low heat capacity of the wings.
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