The Mysterious Central American Rainforest Metallic Silver Beetle

   

Chrysina limbata is a species of beetle native to the tropical rainforests of Central America known for its metallic reflective silver color which makes specimens look like living pieces of jewelry.

Chrysina limbata is regarded as one of the most beautiful insect species on Earth, and for good reason. These beetles have a reflective silver metallic appearance that is so clear one can actually see their reflection in them. According to Wikipedia, this stunning visual effect “is achieved through thin film interference within layers of chitin. These layers of the chitin coating are chirped (in layers of differing thicknesses), forming a complex multilayer as each layer decreases in depth; as the thickness changes, so too does the optical path-length. Each chirped layer is tuned to a different wavelength of light”.


The species of silver beetle has long been very popular among collectors, with some paying as much as $500 per pristine specimens, but it recently became the talk of social media, after a set of photos posted by a Costa Rican man.

While strolling through his property, Michael Farmer noticed something shiny on the leaves of a guava tree. It glinted in the sun like a piece of polished metal, but as he approached, he noticed that the metal was alive and crawling on the leaves.

“I was amazed by how beautiful it was,” Farmer told The Dodo. “[I’ve] never seen anything like it. [It] was like a mirror. Utterly flawless reflection in the beetle, truly one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.”

After snapping some photos of the beetle with his phone, Michael Farmer put it back on the guava tree leaf and it quickly flew away. He hopes to see another one soon, but, sadly, Chrysina limbata beetle numbers are dwindling, due primarily to habitat loss.

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