Color is a widely used communication channel in the living world for a variety of functions ranging from sexual communication to warning colors. A particularly rich spectrum of colors appears on the wings of many butterflies. The males of lycaenid butterflies often exhibit a conspicuous blue coloration generated by photonic nanoarchitectures on their dorsal wing surfaces. Using UV-VIS spectroscopy, we investigated the spatio-temporal variations of this coloration for Polyommatus icarus butterflies, considering an interval of more than 100 years and a geographical range spanning Europe (west) and Asia (east). The blue coloration in Hungary is very stable both within a year (three broods typical in Hungary) and within the period of 100 years (more than 300 generations). East-west geographic variation was investigated among 314 male P. icarus butterflies. In agreement with earlier genetic and morphometric studies, it was found that the western males are not divided in distinct lineages. Clear differences in coloration were found between the eastern and western groups, with a transition in the region of Turkey. These differences are tentatively attributed to bottleneck effects during past glaciations.
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