Blue Morpho Butterfly – Species Profile & Facts
You can’t call yourself a butterfly aficionado without learning everything there is to know about the Blue Morpho butterfly. This is one of the most exotic and beautiful species out there, with a unique profile and characteristics.
Today’s article will dive into the world of the Blue Morpho, looking to teach you everything about this unique and distinct species. The information can serve you in case you’re looking to have your own Blue Morphos as pets or even breed them professionally for profit.
All in all, here are the core specifics of the Blue Morpho butterfly:
Blue Morpho Butterfly Distribution & Habitat
You can encounter large populations of Blue Morpho in tropical forests present throughout Latin America. This type of humid and warm environment is ideal for both Blue Morphos and other species of butterflies due to their life cycle. They will spend most of their short lives in the larva stage, and larvae need a humid and warm habitat to grow and molt.
If you’re already living in a rich, tropical area, breeding Blue Morphos shouldn’t be too much of a hassle. If you don’t, you would want to ensure that the butterfly has the perfect environmental conditions to live and thrive. Your main concern isn’t the adult butterfly since that’s the last phase of its life cycle and only lasts 2-3 weeks.
All your preparations should create the perfect living conditions for the larvae to thrive since the larva phase is the most crucial stage in the butterfly’s life. The adult butterfly will also need similar conditions once the metamorphosis process is complete.
Blue Morpho Butterfly Characteristics
The Morpho butterfly is a genus comprising of many species and subspecies. The genus has around 30 accepted species and 147 subspecies, each with their distinct characteristics. The amazing part is that each species and subspecies come with unique individuals. Simply looking at the butterfly will tell you which category it falls into.
The same goes with the Blue Morpho, which comes with specific physical characteristics. These include:
What makes Blue Morphos unique is the fact that, depending on the angle, you might think you’re looking at 2 different butterflies. Let me elaborate. The top of their wings appears blue with dark-heavy contours. And I say “appears” because their wings aren’t actually colored blue.
Their wings have tiny scales covering the entire surface, which reflect blue light. Hence the appearance. The underside of their wings, however, is completely different. They are dark and light brown with an intricate pattern involving eye-like structures.
This difference in color is a defense mechanism. The blue helps with camouflage, while the underside brown is effective at repelling potential predators.
– Size & Growth
The Morpho genus members vary wildly in terms of looks, size, and growth patterns. You will see Morpho butterflies with wingspans ranging between 3 and 8 inches for the Sunset Morpho. The Blue Morpho is among the smaller specimens, which in no way diminishes its grace and majestic factors.
– Diet & Nutrition
Most profanes believe that butterflies consume flower pollen for some reason. It may have to do with their looks. The reality, however, is entirely different, and I would even dare to say shocking.
That’s because, as beautiful as the Blue Morphos are, as disgusting and unexpected their diet. While in the larva stage, they have mouths with which they can chew various plants and leaves. Pea leaves are among their favorites.
The adult butterfly is where things take a wilder turn. Adult butterflies can no longer chew their food but suck it through their proboscis (the lengthy appendices that serve as the mouth). They will primarily consume rotten fruits, fluids from dead animals, moist fungi, tree sap, etc. This truly makes you see butterflies in a different light, doesn’t it?
Blue Morpho Butterfly Reproduction & Life Cycle
The Blue Morpho’s life cycle lasts approximately 115 days, give or take. Most of this time is spent in larvae form. The larvae (caterpillars) will hatch from the eggs and spend their entire time eating.
The purpose is to grow as large and as fast as possible. You may not recognize the caterpillars as part of the Morpho species due to vast differences in looks. While the adult butterfly is blue and brown with distinct color patterns, the caterpillars tend to have shades of red and brown with green patches on their backs.
The caterpillars tend to eat around the clock, ingesting as much food as possible. This feeding behavior will boost their growth and support them during the molting phases. The Blue Morpho caterpillars undergo 5 molting phases before transforming into a nymph to complete the metamorphosis process.
The adult butterfly will emerge at the end, spend some time drying its wings, and fly off. Unlike other butterfly species, the Blue Morpho doesn’t spend too much time flying. On the contrary, the butterfly spends a lot of time on the wood’s substrate, looking for rotten fruits, animal carcasses, tree sap, etc.
Their entire life’s purpose is to sustain themselves enough to spread their genes. They will spend their entire 2-3-week lifespan searching for a partner to begin the next life cycle leading to the future generation of Blue Morphos.
The Morpho Butterfly is a more exotic species with many unique characteristics separating it from other families of butterflies. If you plan on getting some Blue Morphos of your own, here are several interesting facts about this species that you should be aware of:
- The steep price – Blue Morphos don’t come cheap. Depending on how many you want, you can buy them in price ranges of several hundred to thousands of dollars. When it comes to breeding, I recommend only getting them from professional breeders with a lot of experience in the field. This way, you will make sure to get a good breed with healthy specimens.
- Light is crucial – Blue Morphos love sunlight as it keeps them healthy and active throughout the day. If you plan on setting a breeding enclosure for your Morphos, make sure it provides your Morpho population with access to plenty of sunlight throughout the day.
- Blue Morphos are males – That’s right, only the male Morphos show their distinct blue wings. They use their wings’ coloring to threaten other males and impress their potential dates during the mating period. As a side note, their wings are not blue either, technically speaking. But we’ve already covered this aspect in this article.
- Sexual dimorphism is real – Although the cases are rare, sexual dimorphism can occur among Blue Morphos. This will lead to specimens with both male and female characteristics. This includes a blue and a brown wing, which makes for a rare and impressive sight when it occurs.
- Masters of defense – Although fragile and defenseless at first glance, Blue Morphos are anything but. They have some unique defense mechanisms, including the eye-like color patterns on the underside of their wings. They can also emit a potent odor from their front legs to deter any predators. Finally, their flight pattern functions as an extra self-defense mechanism since flapping the wings will alternate the blue with the underside brown to create the illusion that the butterfly disappears and reappears with every flap. This makes it more difficult for any potential predators to track the butterfly during its flight.
If you’ve decided to get your own Blue Morphos, leave a comment below with all the questions you need answering. I’ll provide clarifications and details as soon as possible.