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Vision enables stealth communication: jewel scarab beetle


Jewel scarab beetle / Farhan Bokh.. / LicenseCC-by-nc-nd - Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives

The vision of jewel scarab beetles allows them to find each other while evading enemies thanks to the detection of circularly polarized light.


"According to researchers from the University of Texas, the jewel scarab species Chrysina gloriosa can distinguish between circularly polarized and unpolarized light. That ability could provide the beetles with a tremendous advantage, the researchers say, because most of the light reflected off these beetles' colorful bodies happens to be circularly polarized.

"'The trait would allow the beetles to easily see each other while simultaneously hiding from predators that cannot see circular polarized light,' said physicist Parrish Brady, who conducted the research with Molly Cummings

"Because ability to see CP light is very rare in nature, it's not likely that any of the beetles' predators can see it. So the ability to both see and reflect CP light probably evolved to allow jewel scarabs to communicate with each other while staying hidden from predators…" (Science Daily 2010)
About the inspiring organism

Learn more at
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Optical devices using liquid crystals for uses such as in DVDs, CDs. Circular polarizing filters for cameras.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy:

The Cummings Lab
Dr. Molly E. Cummings
The University of Texas at Austin
2010. Beetles stand out using 'Avatar' tech. Science Daily [Internet],
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Brady P; Cummings M. 2010. Differential response to circularly polarized light by the jewel scarab beetle Chrysina gloriosa. The American Naturalist. 175(5): 614–620.
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