Morpho Butterfly Facts
|Size||3.7-4.7 in (95-120 mm) (wingspan)|
|Habitat||Mexico, Central Amerika, Paraguay, Thailand|
|Scientific name||Morpho peleides|
|Characteristics||Blue metallic color|
The morpho is one of the largest butterflies and stands out with its bright metallic blue color. This color is unique among butterflies and it is an awesome experience for every butterfly expert to see one of these animals at close range. The morpho is also called emperor, and its blue color resembles the color of the sky.
Normally, color pigments determine the color of an animal. The morpho is different – if blue pigments were responsible for its color, it would not be as bright as it actually is. There are countless thin scales on its wings, which are layered one on top of the other. All colors of light are absorbed by the scales except the blue color, which is the only one to be reflected. This is the reason why the morpho butterfly appears to be blue.
Visible, Invisible, Visible, Invisible ...
When the morpho butterfly flips up its wings, their brown ventral side with the reddish-brown eye-spots becomes visible. Suddenly the butterfly looks like a brown leaf. When the morpho is flying, this can be rather confusing: When the morpho regularly flaps its wings, it might look as if the butterfly were disappearing for a moment, because the brown color of its wings blends with the color of the environment. One moment later the morpho suddenly appears again shining like a bright light. The morpho butterfly uses this confusion strategy to scare enemies away.
Visible From Aeroplanes
The morpho’s blue color is so bright and shining that even pilots can see the butterflies bathe in the sun in the tree canopy when flying over the rainforests.
115 Days to Live
From the egg through the chrysalis stage to the fully grown butterfly: Sadly, the beautiful morpho only has a life expectancy of 115 days. It spends most of this time in the chrysalis stage.
The Life of a Morpho Butterfly
Morphos either live up in the tree canopy or on the ground, where they find the sweet nectar. Generally, humans can see morphos only when they are flying across open areas or along rivers.
Caterpillar vs. Caterpillar
Many morphos die before having reached the stage of a fully grown butterfly. The caterpillars are often killed by their natural enemies but also devour each other. Yes, it is true, morpho caterpillars are cannibals.
The Biggest Threat
Birds and fish hunt morphos. Yet, as often unfortunately happens, humans are the biggest threat to the butterflies. Because of its wonderful blue color it has become extremely popular among collectors worldwide. Its wings are even used to produce jewelry such as earrings or trinkets.