Blue Morpho Butterfly

Common Name: Blue Morpho Butterfly

Type: Insect

Family: Nymphalidae

Range: The most amazing insect in the tropical rainforests of Central America and South America. Blue Morpho is found mainly in forests Throughout the U.S., Mexico, and Costa Rica. It has amazing and beautiful blue wings that can reflect light.

Size: Blue Morpho grow up to approximately 5 – 6 inches wide.

Diet: The blue morpho’s diet changes throughout each stage of its life. As a caterpillar, it chews leaves. When it becomes a butterfly drinks its food instead. Adults use a long, protruding mouthpart called a proboscis as a drinking straw to sip the juice of rotting fruit, the fluids of decomposing animals, tree sap, fungi and wet mud. Blue morphos taste fruit with sensors on their legs, and they “taste-smell” the air with their antennae, which serve as a combined tongue and nose.

Average life span: The life span is one of the shortest. They can live only 115 days. Their time as a butterfly is restricted to reproduction.

Habitat: Blue morphos survive in the tropical forests of Latin America from Mexico to Colombia including Costa Rica. Adult’s morphos spend almost all their time on the forest floor and in the lower shrubs and trees of the understory with their wings folded. However, at the time of searching for mates, the blue morphos can fly through all layers of the forest.

Breeding/Reproduction: Butterflies live for reproduction; they reproduce and die immediately after laying their eggs. Male butterflies release chemicals called pheromones in their wings and attract as many females as possible. The female’s eggs are fertilized, they lay them in a safe place and flies off. The eggs will hatch after about nine days.

Blue Morpho Butterfly comes from the family of Nymphalidae. It is mostly endemic to South and Central America as well in Mexico. It got its name Morpho which means “changed” because of its ability to look like it is changing colors when in flight as well as on halt mode. This was all due to the butterfly’s prominent wings. The blue morpho’s wings spans from five to eight inches. The color of the ventral or the front of the wing is dull brown and it seems to have lots of eyespots to protect them from predators like birds and insects if they closed their wings. The dorsal or the back part is bright blue with a black edged. This bright blue coloring is the result of the microscopic scales which reflects light at its back. When the blue morpho flaps its wings upon flying the bright blue back is in contrast to the front dull brown which makes them look like they are appearing and disappearing into the air. Most male blue morpho has broader wings that the females and it appears to be brighter in color while most of the female blue morpho has dull blue wings that has white spots with brown edging.

The Blue Morpho’s life cycle begins when the eggs are hatched into larvae. Then when they become a caterpillar they have more of a brownish red with green patches at the back. They had prickly hair that can irritate predators under threat. These caterpillars mostly eat on leaves but they mostly fancy plants from the pea family. Then it will form into a jade-green chrysalis to start metamorphosis. Then after that an adult blue morpho butterfly emerges. At this stage since they cannot chew they drinks its food instead. They use their proboscis which is like a drinking straw to sip fluids of rotten fruits, carcass, tree saps, fungus and even wet mud. They used their legs to taste fruits due to their leg sensors. And their antennae will acts like a combination of their tongue and nose since it can “taste-smell” the air in search for food.

The blue morpho has several species:

Morpho Menelaus

One is the Menelaus Blue Morpho which has the scientific name Morpho Menelaus. It is mostly found in Central and South America like Costa Rica, Brazil and Venezuela but can go far as Mexico. Their wing spans at the average of 5.9 inches.

Peleides Blue Morpho

Second type is the Peleides Blue Morpho also known as the Common Morpho or The Emperor. Its scientific name is Morpho peleides. It is endemic mostly in Mexico, Northern part of South America, Paraguay, Central America and Trinidad

Blue Morphos has a life span of 115 days only. Even though they had few months to live some are threatened by their natural predators like the birds and also due to habitat destruction because of loggings and land clearing. Also humans capture and display them due to its bright and beautiful color.

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