Blog Home Design Design Inspiration 36 Stunning Patterns That Are Actually Macro Butterfly Wings

Anyone can see that butterflies are beautiful, but when their colorful wings are magnified, their beauty takes on another level — one that’s clearly visible in these 36 macro images captured by Shutterstock contributors.

Both moths and butterflies belong to the Lepidoptera family, meaning that their magnificent, detailed wings are comprised of hundreds of tiny scales, visible only at extreme magnification. The scales, which are loosely attached to the wings and vary greatly in color from species to species, fall into one of three buckets: hair-like, blade-like, and other.

In these images, photographed by contributors in Thailand, Germany, Italy, Poland, and elsewhere, you can see a variety of colorful butterfly and moth wing types, captured at several different magnifications. Scroll through the bright patterns below, and explore all the macro photos in our full butterfly wing collection.

Blue butterfly wing by Kristin Speed.

Golden Birdwing butterfly wing by Super Prin.

Butterfly wing close-up by Nicola Dal Zotto.

Butterfly wing detail by Pan Xunbin.

Extreme 20x detail of Morpho Rhetenor Cacica butterfly wing by Tomatito.

Close-up of a Monarch butterfly wing by AppStock.

Neon butterfly wing texture by Wanchai.

Detail of a Tiger Swallowtail butterfly wing by Marc Parsons.

Butterfly wing scales at 40x magnification by Nikola Rahme.

Monarch butterfly wing detail by Peter Waters.

Explore our Butterfly Wings Collection to see all 36 magnificent macro images »

Top image: Wing scales at 40x magnification by Nikola Rahme.