Blue Morpho Butterfly (Morpho menelaus)


Blue Morpho Butterfly (Morpho mennelaus) [Nymphalidae (brush-footed butterflies)]

Wing span: 5 - 6 inches (13 - 15 cm).

Identification: The Blue Morpho is a butterfly that has brilliant blue wings (the females are not as brilliantly colored as the males and have a brown edge with white spots surrounding the iridescent blue area). The undersides (visible whe the butterfly is resting) are brown with bronze-colored eyespots).

Life history: The butterflies live for 115 days on average, their time as a caterpillar takes up most of that time. Male butterflies release pheromones in their wings to attract as many females as possible. The female's eggs are fertilized, they lay them in a safe place and fly off. The eggs will hatch after about nine days. The young caterpillars face many dangers and have no protection. The caterpillars themselves are cannibalistic and natural predators also like them.

Predators: Baby jaguars (think they are toys), birds, fish, and humans.

Flight: Remain mostly in the forest except in times that it goes into clearings for some sun.

Caterpillar hosts: The caterpillar is red-brown with bright patches of lime-green on the back and eats the plant Erythtoxylum pilchrum at night.

Adult food: They like the juices of rotting fruit using their straw-like proboscis.

Habitat: Tropical forest, cutover second growth.

Range: There are about 50 different species of Morpho's. All similar except variances in color and/or size. South and Central America, Brazil Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Venezuela.