Butterfly and Bee Garden

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Facts about Blue Morpho Butterflies

As the name implies, the Blue Morpho Butterflies get their name from the bright blue wings. These butterflies are one of the largest among the Lepidoptera insects. While the wing’s topside is blue, the underneath is dark brown. When flying the two colors flash making it look like the butterfly is flickering (appearing and disappearing effect)

The underside of the fore-wings and hind-wings features eye-spots that are a defense mechanism to intimidate predators. The number of eye spots differs from one blue morpho to another.

Blue Morpho Butterflies

Name Blue Morpho
Scientific name Morpho peleides
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Arthropoda
Order Lepidoptera
Class Insecta
Genus Morpho
Family Nymphalidae
Color Iridescence blue
Habitat Rain forest
Weight 2-3 grams
Wings 5 – 8 inches
Diet Herbivore
Food Rotting fruits, decomposing animals, wet mud
Lifespan egg to death 155 days
Lifespan hatching to death 2-3 weeks
Conservation Status None
Poisonous Yes

Facts About the Blue Morpho Butterfly

What is another name for a Blue Morpho Butterfly?

The scientific name for the blue morpho is Morpho peleides. It is also known as Morpho peleides Kollar or peleides blue morpho. There are more than ten subspecies of the Morpho peleides, including

  • Morpho peleides faustina
  • Morpho peleides luminosa
  • Morpho peleides tucupita
  • Morpho peleides crispitaenia

Morpho Butterfly Diet

The diet of the blue morpho depends on its life stage. As a caterpillar, it chews leaves, that’s why the females deposit their eggs on leaves. Like all butterflies, the adult blue morpho sips its food using the proboscis. Blue morpho’s favorite food includes juice from rotting fruits, tree sap, wet mud, fungi, and fluids from decomposing animals.

Are Blue Morpho Butterflies Rare?

Yes, the blue morpho butterflies are rare except in the South America and Central America rain-forests where they are native.  Another rare thing about the blue morpho is the blue color that comes from the scales that reflect light like a prism.

What is unique about the Blue Morpho Butterfly?

First, the blue morpho is one of the largest butterflies. Another unique characteristic of these creatures is the spectacular blue color. Surprisingly, the color is because of scales that reflect light producing an iridescent blue color.

Since the blue color makes them conspicuous and easily visible by predators, the underside of the wings is brown with cryptic coloration and eye spots for protection.

Are Blue Morpho Butterflies Helpful or Harmful?

The blue morpho butterflies are important to the biological diversity of the Amazon rain-forest. As a defense mechanism, these butterflies are poisonous but not harmful. To the native Amazon tribes, the blue morpho is very significant. Some tribes believe they are spiritual guides while others treat them as evil spirits. Butterfly collectors, are very valuable in the making of jewelry.

Where do the Blue Morpho Butterflies Live?

The blue morphos are native to South America, Central America, and Mexico rain-forests. In the rain-forest, adult butterflies are mostly found on the forest floor and in the under-story eating and reproducing since they have a lifespan of up to 14 days after hatching.

Pilots also report seeing swarms of blue morphos above the treetops as they enjoy the sun.

Blue Morphos have an Elaborate Defense Mechanism

First defense mechanism kicks in during the eggs stage. Their eggs are pale green that blends easily with the leaves, making them less visible to predators such as insects and birds. The caterpillar has hairs and a unique shape, unlike most other larvae.

Blue Morpho Butterfly with wings closedAdult blue morpho butterflies have flashing defense. Because the topside is blue and the underside is brown, the butterflies tend to appear and disappear as they fly making it hard for predators to follow them. The flashing blue wings is also a tactic to scare away potential predators.

Brown color and eye-spots on the underside of the wings make the butterfly less visible when resting and they also scare predators.

Are Morpho Butterflies Endangered?

No, blue morpho butterflies are not listed as endangered. However, they are under great threat from deforestation of their natural habitat. They are also threatened by human collectors who use their wings in making jewelry.

What is the Lifespan of a Blue Morpho Butterfly?

Lifespan of the blue morpho is about 115 days, which is slightly under four months. Eggs take about 12 days to hatch, while the larva stage has five stages that last between 11 and 14 days. The caterpillar stage lasts up to 8 weeks, while the pupal stage lasts up to 14 days. After hatching, the butterflies live for up to 21 days or 3 weeks.

How do you Attract Blue Morpho Butterflies?

While they don’t drink nectar like most butterflies, the blue morpho butterflies love the smell of rotting fruits. These creatures also love grapes, that’s why when visiting most conservatories that have these butterflies, you will be given a glass of grape juice to attract them as you walk around.

Are Blue Morpho Butterflies Actually Blue?

Surprisingly, the blue morpho butterflies are not actually blue. The blue color that we love about them is not because of pigmentation. It comes from the diamond-shaped scales on the wings that reflect light similar to a prism. That’s why their blue color is referred to as iridescence blue.

This physics of light is now being applied in different industries such as automotive.

What makes the Morpho Butterfly Blue?

The blue morpho butterflies appear blue when the nano-scales on the wings diffract light making the butterflies look blue.

How Long do Blue Morphos Live?

Adult blue morphos live between 1 and 2 weeks. However, their life cycle from eggs to death is about 115 days, which is slightly below four months.

Are there many Morpho Butterflies are Left in the World?

It’s hard to put into numbers how many blue morpho butterflies there are all over the world. This is because adult butterflies live for less than 2 weeks so they are continuously replaced. The majority of blue morpho butterflies are found in the rain-forest of Central and South America.

How Big can a Blue Morpho Butterfly get?

Blue Morpho is one of the largest butterflies in the world. Their wings range between 5 (12.5cm) and 8 inches (20cm) and weigh between 2-3 grams.

How Many Eggs does a Blue Morpho Butterfly Lay?

Female blue morpho butterflies lay between 7 and 15 eggs. They place the eggs on the underside of leaves to provide immediate food to the caterpillars. The eggs are light green with brown spots but change into green, brown, and transparent as they develop.

Where can I find Morpho Butterflies?

Blue morpho butterflies are native to South and Central America. In the rain forests, these butterflies are mostly found in the forest canopy.

What is the Weight of a Blue Morpho Butterfly?

An adult blue morpho butterfly weighs between 2 and 3 grams.

What is the Blue Morpho Butterfly Prey?

Since these butterflies are herbivores they don’t have prey. During the caterpillar stage, they feed on leaves. Adult blue morphos butterflies sip their food.

Is the Blue Morpho Poisonous?

The blue morpho is only poisonous if you eat it. They are harmless when holding them. During the caterpillar stage, blue morphos feed on different plants including the poisonous pea plants as a defense mechanism. They accumulate this poison even after hatching.

Do Blue Morpho Butterflies Survive in the Rain Forest?

The blue morpho butterflies are well adapted to survive in the rain-forest. Green eggs, blue color, and brown underside are all defense and survival features.

Can you Raise Blue Morpho Butterflies?

It’s not a good idea to raise these butterflies unless you will be releasing them into a rain-forest ecosystem, where they are adapted to live.

What do Blue Morphos Symbolize?

The symbolism depends on the different communities and people that live near their habitats. For instance in Costa Rica, these butterflies symbolize healing or a wish granter.