Photonic band gap material type nanoarchitectures occurring in the wing scales of butterflies possessing structural color were investigated as selective gas/vapor sensors. From 20 examined butterfly species all showed selective sensing when various volatile organic compounds were introduced as additives in ambient air. Four butterflies species: Chrysiridia ripheus (Geometridae), Pseudolycena marsyas, Cyanophrys remus (both Lycaenidae) and Morpho aega (Nymphalidae) were selected to demonstrate the possibilities of selective sensing offered by these natural nanoarchitectures. Each butterfly species gives characteristic response both for species, i.e., for its typical nanoarchitecture, and for the seven test vapors used. Fast response time, reproducible and concentration dependent signals are demonstrated.© (2008) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.