The brilliant colors and jewel-like patterns of many tropical rainforest insects have long attracted human beings.

Ancient Indian cultures used insects to decorate ceremonial robes.

More recently, the Victorians made collages with bright pieces of insect.

The brilliant coloration of these insects is produced when some of the wavelengths of white light are removed from the spectrum and the rest are reflected.

Specific wavelengths of light may be absorbed by pigments or differentially reflected by the physical nature of the insect cuticle.

In insects, the pigments are laid down in the cuticle during its formation, or are deposited in the superficial tissues under fairly transparent cuticle.

Pigments are frequently waste products derived from food or from bodybuilding processes, which are stored rather than excreted.

Carotenoids are the pigments responsible for the yellow-orange-red sequence of coloration seen in some grasshoppers.

When carotenoids are combined with blue pigments, greens result.

These can be seen in the cryptic coloration of stick insects and many grasshoppers.

White, yellow and red are also produced by pterines, pigments that are especially common in butterflies and moths and give the red hue to many insect eyes.

Some insects, such as the stick insect, can vary their shade during the day, becoming lighter or darker as the light intensity changes. They make themselves lighter concentrating the pigment in the epidermal cells and make themselves darker by dispersing the pigment.

Some insects produce patterns by using surface structures or subcuticular particles to split light physically.

The pearly white of some butterflies is the result of large particles scattering all wavelengths of white light.

The brilliant blues of some dragonflies occur when minute particles with dimensions similar to the wavelength of blue light reflect only blue, while the remaining wavelengths of red and green are absorbed by a pigment layer beneath the particles.

The metallic or iridescent sheens of many butterflies and plant-feeding beetles are created by microscopic vertical vanes or reflecting layers in the cuticle.

The spacing between these structures allows only certain wavelengths to reflected. This causes the colors of these insects to change when they are viewed at different angles.