A flash of blue

5 09 2008

As promised, here are two photos of the very elusive Blue Morpho butterfly from the Wings of Fancy exhibit at Brookside Gardens. And despite the fact that the bottom photo is just a blur of motion, it’s not as bad as I originally thought. It certainly shows how beautiful this butterfly is.

It is about a 115-day process from egg stage until it reaches adulthood. Native to the tropical rainforests of Central America, South America, and Mexico, the Blue Morpho is one of over 80 species of the genus Morpho. It is one of the largest butterflies in the world, with wings spanning from 5 to 8 inches. The iridescent blue color is a result of the microscopic scales on the backside of their wings that reflect light. The contrasting dull brown exterior and the brilliant blue interior serves as a protective measure—as the Blue Morpho flies, it confuses potential predators. (Trust me, it works. I had a hard time following them!)

As a caterpillar, it chews leaves of various trees; as an adult, it can no longer chew. It drinks its food instead, preferring the juice of rotting fruit, fluids of decomposing animals, fungi, wet mud, and tree sap. Blue Morphos are severely threatened by deforestation of tropical forests and habitat destruction, and humans are a direct threat because of their desire to collect them.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.