The "dust" on a butterfly's wing is not dust at all, but tiny individual hairs called scales. These scales serve many important purposes for butterflies.
- They create the patterns of bright colors seen on most butterflies that they use to attract a mate.
- They help the butterfly camouflage itself to protect it from predators.
- The patterns on the scales can help butterflies absorb heat from the sun. Butterflies are cold blooded and rely on warmth to help them fly.
- The bright colors may advertise to predators that this particular butterfly is poisonous.
So you see, butterfly scales are for more than just looking pretty! They serve a variety of purposes to help the butterfly survive.