Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Sap-feeding butterflies join ranks of natural phenomenon, the Golden Ratio


Coiling action of the butterfly proboscis resembled spiral similar to Golden Ratio

Alongside Leonardo Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man, disc-shaped galaxies, or the cochlea of the human ear, scientists can now count sap-feeding butterfly proboscises as aligned with the Golden Ratio.

A high-speed camera was used to record proboscis-coiling configurations and the videos were then analyzed to isolate the frame that showed closeness to the Golden Ratio spiral.

Credit: M. Lehnert

The mysterious Golden Ratio (also known as Phi (φ), the Golden Mean, or the Divine Number) is an incommensurable number - a relationship between two irrational numbers - which occurs organically throughout the universe. Beginning as 1.61803, the Golden Ratio continues forever without repeating, similar to Pi (π). Artists and architects have employed the number to guide design. In the natural world, the Golden Ratio often appears in the shape of a spiral.

Researchers at Kent State University observed that the coiling action of the butterfly proboscis, a tube-like "mouth" that many butterflies and moths use to feed on fluids, resembled a spiral similar to that of the Golden Ratio, and decided to investigate. Their study, "The Golden Ratio reveals geometric differences in proboscis coiling among butterflies of different feeding habits", was released by American Entomologist, a publication of the Entomological Society of America.

The experiment consisted of collecting six butterfly species with different feeding habits (nectar feeders, sap feeders, and puddle feeders, i.e., species where males puddle to acquire sodium) over a 3-month period near Alliance, OH. A high-speed camera was used to record proboscis-coiling configurations and the videos were then analyzed to isolate the frame that showed closeness to the Golden Ratio spiral.

Though proboscis geometry did not show a trend that matched the evolutionary relationships among the studied species, it was discovered that the Golden Ratio did relate to butterfly feeding habits, and sap-feeding butterflies have proboscis conformations that closely resemble the Golden Ratio. The researchers suggest that the differences in proboscis coiling conformations might relate to the substrates from which butterflies feed. "This trend fits a pattern where nectar feeders primarily feed on fluids confined in floral tubes, sap feeders feed on exposed fluids of porous surfaces, and puddle feeders feed from both."

The researchers suggest that these findings can be used to predict the feeding habits of unstudied lepidopteran species, as well as provide the basis for further research on the connection between the structural configuration of proboscis coiling patterns and butterfly feeding habits. "Although coincidental, it is fascinating that a mathematical occurrence can be used to reveal a widespread pattern at radically different scales, from galaxies to butterfly proboscises," concludes lead author Matthew S. Lehnert.


Matthew S. Lehnert is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Kent State University at Stark where he teaches Entomology, Genetics, and Evolution courses. He studies the evolutionary ecology and fluid uptake mechanisms of Lepidoptera.

Eric Brown was an undergraduate student at Kent State University at Stark where he recently graduated with a B.A. in Biology.

Margie P. Lehnert is a Lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences at Kent State University at Stark where she teaches numerous biology courses for majors and non-majors.

Patrick D. Gerard is Professor of Applied Statistics in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Clemson University.

Huan Yan is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Liquid Crystal Institute at Kent State University.

Chanjoong Kim is an Assistant Professor at the Liquid Crystal Institute at Kent State University.

About American Entomologist

American Entomologist is a quarterly magazine that publishes articles and information of general entomological interest. The magazine publishes columns, features, research, book reviews, letters to the editor, and obituaries.

The Golden Ratio reveals geometric differences in proboscis coiling among butterflies of different feeding habits

**Link will be live upon embargo date. A full PDF of the article is available upon request.**

Sharing on social media? Find Oxford Journals @OxfordJournals or Entomological Society @EntsocAmerica.

Estelle Hallick | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Entomologist Galaxies Liquid butterfly coiling fluids natural phenomenon phenomenon species

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Don't Give the Slightest Chance to Toxic Elements in Medicinal Products
23.03.2018 | Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB)

nachricht North and South Cooperation to Combat Tuberculosis
22.03.2018 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>