Photonic microstructures in nature, specifically in endemic species of Coleoptera from Argentina and the south of Chile have been identified, analyzed and modeled. These natural systems produce partial photonic bandgaps (PBGs) as a result of the high periodicity of the microstructures found in some parts of their bodies. With the aid of scanning (SEM) and transmission (TEM) electron microscopy we have identified that the elytron (modified forewing of a beetle that encases the thin hind wings used in flight) of these insects shows a periodic structure which originates diffractive phenomena resulting in extraordinary physical effects such as iridescent or metallic colors. We measured the reflectance spectrum and obtained the chromaticity diagrams of the samples with an Ocean Optics 4000 spectrophotometer. The geometrical parameters of the structure were obtained by processing the SEM images with the ImageJ software, to introduce them in our electromagnetic model. In all cases, a satisfactory agreement between the measurements and the numerical results was obtained. This permits us to explain the mechanism of color production in those specimens. The study of structural colors in the natural world can inspire the development of artificial devices with particular applications in technology, such as intelligent sensors and new kinds of filters.© (2010) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.