Blue Morpho (Morpho menelaus)
The Blue Morpho is a species of Latin American butterflies famous for the bright blue sheen on their wings. They were highly valued among the 20th-century butterfly collectors and was widely hunted. The wings of this species are a prime example of iridescent blue coloration in the insect world.
Description and Identification
The mature larvae are red-brown in color with bright green spots and are covered with bristles. As an evolutionary adaptation, these fine hairy growths release an irritant upon contact to ward off predators. The eggs of the butterfly are laid so that the caterpillars may feed as soon as they hatch.
The blue morpho chrysalis is bright green with the shape of a small conch shell hanging from the branches of the host plant. The green coloration of the cocoon is an adaptation to help it camouflage in the rainforest during this stage.
Sexual Dimorphism: Not visibly present
Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, the dorsal sides of the forewings and the hindwings display a bright, iridescent blue coloration edged with black. When the wings are closed, the ventral sides display a brown coloration patterned with a series of eyespots, with two in the primary and three in the secondary wings, running through the center of both the wings almost parallel to the edges. The males are relatively brighter than females.
Average wingspan: Approximately 12 cm by size
Flight pattern: Slow and floppy
Very small, pale green in color, shaped like dew drops; laid on the underside of host plants’ leaves one at a time
|Distribution||Central and South America, including the Cerrado, Mexico, and Venezuela|
|Habitat||Spend most of the time on the forest floor and in the lower shrubs and trees of the tropical forests|
|Lifespan of adults||About 115 days|
|Host plants||Various flowers from the species of Erythroxylum, Dalbergia, and Fabaceae|
|Adult diet||Flower nectar, ripe fruits|
Did You Know?
- In biological research, the iridescent wings of the species are an area of interest because of its unique microstructure as opposed to other butterfly species that are typically caused by optical interference.
- The caterpillars are social by behavior and are often seen in small groups.