Are ultraviolet animals invisible

Can animals see ultraviolet light?

Whether integrated night vision device, slow-motion vision or a few extra eyes - nature was very creative in distributing the visual abilities. Animals often see differently and sometimes more than humans. But is ultraviolet light also visible to them?

Seeing ultraviolet light is useful for many animals

Ultraviolet light, also known as UV light, is best known as the part of sunlight that tans us. In addition, many also know it as black light, which makes white shirts glow in the club. Some animal species are actually able to see this special light.

The eyes of various diurnal bird species are ideally equipped for such a vision. They can see UV reflections on the plumage of their fellow species.[1] As appealing plays of light, these may not be a bad criterion when choosing a partner! Because there is probably no clearer sign of well-cared for plumage. But even a potential snack between meals can be spotted much more easily thanks to the ability to see UV light. Ripe fruits reflect ultraviolet light more strongly than unripe ones and are so much more visible. And if you can't see the forest for the trees, the UV view helps to better differentiate between different types of leaves. This makes it easier for the birds to find the tree in which they built their nest.[2]

The absolute experts when it comes to ultraviolet light are insects. With their compound eyes, bees and bumblebees not only have a panoramic view, but can also fully rely on the light signals of flowers when searching for something to eat. Their color pigments reflect the UV light in such a way that they literally indicate runways for pollen and nectar.

Even the supposedly visually impaired bats have something of the bright flowers. Some nectar-eating tropical species can also perceive the ultraviolet light and control their favorite flowers as precisely as with a GPS.[4]

Can humans perceive UV light?

With the many possible uses, you could be jealous. The UV light shows the animals that can see it everything they need to know. But what does it all look like in humans?

The eyes of animals that can see ultraviolet light have the necessary sensory cells. This does not apply to human eyes. You are missing these cells. Even if it might be nice to be able to see as much as some animals: unfortunately our eyes cannot perceive UV light. So if you need to find a particularly juicy fruit basket or a beautiful bouquet of flowers in the near future - simply speak to a UV light expert from the animal kingdom with a clear conscience.


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[1] https://www.bund-nrw.de/themen/vogelschlag-an-glas/hintergruende/uv-sehen-bei-voegeln/

[2]https://www.wissenschaft.de/umwelt-natur/voegel-uv-sicht-als-vorteil/

[3]https://www.wissenschaft.de/umwelt-natur/wozu-nutzen-fledermaeuse-ihre-augen/