Name: Blue Morpho Butterfly
Scientific name: Morpho menelaus
~ The morpho butterfly’s wings, when viewed from above, are bright blue edged with black, as a result of the microscopic scales on the backs of their wings, which reflect light, causing the butterfly to appear a brilliant iridescent blue.
~ The Blue Morpho is one of the biggest butterflies in the world, their wings can vary from 5 to 8 inches in width.
~ The underside of the morphos’ wings, on the other hand, is a dull brown color with many eyespots, which serve as a defense against predators such as birds and insects.
~ Blue morphos, like other butterflies, also have two clubbed antennas, two fore wings and two hind wings, six legs and three body segments -- the head, thorax and abdomen.
~ Blue Morpho butterflies live in the tropical forests of Latin America from Mexico to Colombia.
~ Adults spend most of their time on the forest floor and in the lower shrubs and trees of the understory.
~ However, when looking for mates, the blue Morpho butterfly will fly through all layers of the forest.
~ Morpho butterflies feed on the juices of fermenting fruit with which they may also be lured. Morphos will also feed on the bodily fluids of dead animals and on fungi.
~ The hairy brown caterpillars are nocturnal and feed on a variety of leguminous plants.
Why are they endangered?
Blue morphos are severely threatened by deforestation of tropical forests and habitat fragmentation. Humans provide a direct threat to this spectacular creature because their beauty attracts artists and collectors from all over the globe who wish to capture and display them. Aside from humans, birds like the jacamar and flycatcher are the adult butterfly’s natural predators.
What can we do to help them?
~ Save their home! To prevent some of its native habitat from being developed and to remove the exotic plants that had invaded that habitat.
~ Donate and save! To donate to organizations that are dedicated to protect the blue morphos
~ Do not buy jewelry and ornaments made with blue morphos--- we want them free and alive in the rainforests, not dried and dead in a frame
~ When the blue morpho flies, the contrasting bright blue and dull brown colors flash, making it look like the morpho is appearing and disappearing.
~ Pilots flying over rainforests have even encountered large groups of blue morphos above the treetops, warming themselves in the sun.
~ The titular blue butterfly has spiritual meaning for the native people of the rainforest, who see it either as a wish-granter or a malicious spirit
~ Blue morphos, like all butterflies, taste with sensors on their legs and taste-smell the air with their antennae.
Their beauty is brief: the entire blue morpho life cycle lasts only 115 days.
~ If disturbed, Blue Morpho caterpillars will secrete a fluid smelling of rancid butter. The tufts of hair decorating the caterpillars irritate human skin.