20 Butterfly Species with Iridescent Wing Patterns

In this enlightening overview, you’ll explore 20 exquisite butterfly species, renowned for their mesmerizing iridescent wing patterns.

You’ll journey from the striking Blue Morpho to the transparent Glasswinged Butterfly, indulging in the rich variety that nature provides.

This is your chance to discover the enchanting world of these winged wonders in dazzling detail.

Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides)

The Blue Morpho, scientifically known as Morpho peleides, is a captivating butterfly that stands out due to its impressive iridescent wings.

Blue Morpho butterfly

  • Habitat: Found primarily in the tropical rainforests of Central and South America.
  • Appearance: The upper side of the wings are covered with millions of microscopic scales, demonstrating an extraordinary, vibrant, metallic blue color. Underneath, the wings are a dull brown with many eyespots.
  • Size: Its wingspan ranges from 5 to 8 inches (12.7 to 20.3 cm), ranking it among the largest butterflies in the world.
  • Diet: The Blue Morpho’s diet primarily consists of rotting fruit, making it a frugivorous species.
  • Reproduction: The female morpho lays eggs on the undersides of leaves, which hatch into caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: Adult Blue Morphos generally live for about 115 days.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars feed on a variety of plant species, including Leguminosae and Bignoniaceae.

Green-banded Urania (Urania leilus)

The Green-banded Urania is a sight to behold with its impressive iridescence. This butterfly catches the eye and leaves a lasting impression.

Green-banded Urania, Urania leilus

  • Habitat: You’ll primarily find the Green-banded Urania in the rainforests of South America.
  • Appearance: Its wings display a mix of greens, blacks, and reds. This pattern gives it a unique, glimmering look.
  • Size: With a wingspan of almost 4 inches (about 10cm), it does command attention.
  • Diet: It mostly feeds on toxic leaves from Omphalea plants.
  • Reproduction: The females lay eggs on the leaves of these plants, ensuring the survival of their offspring.
  • Lifespan: The adult butterfly generally lives around two to three weeks.
  • Host Plants: Omphalea plants are the main host plants for this species.

It’s clear to see why this striking butterfly, with its vibrant colors, is one of the most sought-after butterflies by collectors worldwide.

Sunset Moth (Urania ripheus)

Among the insect world, few creatures can match the striking beauty of the Sunset Moth or Urania ripheus.

Sunset Moth (Urania ripheus)

  • Habitat: This species is native to the rainforests of Madagascar.
  • Appearance: As its name suggests, it boasts an extraordinary iridescent pattern. Its wings spectacularly glow with bright patches of green, yellow, red, and blue.
  • Size: Adult Sunset Moths have a wingspan of 2.7 to 3.1 inches (7-8 cm).
  • Diet: They subsist primarily on plants of the Omphalea family.
  • Reproduction: Usually, the female moth would lay eggs on the plants their caterpillars prefer to eat.
  • Lifespan: As with most species of moths and butterflies, the Sunset Moth lives an average of 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars feed on Omphalea species, with Omphalea ankaranensis and Omphalea triandra being most favored.

Not only is their appearance fascinating, but their lifecycle and habits present a real treat to the observer.

Discovering the world of the Sunset Moth offers a moment of awe and contemplation of nature’s infinite beauty.

Purple Spotted Swallowtail (Graphium weiskei)

The Purple Spotted Swallowtail is a marvel of the butterfly kingdom. As the name implies, it’s renowned for its purple spots that deliver a stunning contrast against its predominantly black wings.

Originating from Papua New Guinea, this butterfly flourishes in tropical climates.

Graphium weiskei - Purple Spotted Swallowtail

  • Habitat: Primarily found in the tropical rainforests of Papua New Guinea.
  • Appearance: This species exhibits black wings adorned with vibrant purple spots.
  • Size: A medium-sized butterfly, its wingspan ranges from 3 to 3.7 inches (7.5 to 9.5 cm).
  • Diet: The caterpillars feed on various plants from the Annonaceae family, while adult butterflies primarily seek nectar from flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on the undersides of leaves, which then hatch into caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: Like most butterfly species, the Purple Spotted Swallowtail’s life cycle from egg to adult is roughly one month.
  • Host Plants: It prefers the leaves of various plants from the Annonaceae or custard apple family.

Emerald Swallowtail (Papilio palinurus)

The Emerald Swallowtail is a captivating display of nature’s magic. It features a highly iridescent blue-green ‘window’ on the upper part of its hind wings, which correspond to the gemstone’s brilliance.

Emerald Swallowtail (Papilio palinurus)

  • Habitat: Primarily found in Southeast Asia’s rainforests, such as Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia.
  • Appearance: The feature that sets it apart is the vivid green bands angled across their black wings.
  • Size: A typical wing span ranges from 3.1 to 3.9 inches (80 to 100 mm).
  • Diet: Their caterpillars feed on the leaves of citrus plants, while adults enjoy sipping nectar from flowers.
  • Reproduction: After mating, females lay the eggs individually on the leaves of host plants.
  • Lifespan: Usually lives for around 7 to 9 months in wild.
  • Host Plants: Citrus species including orange, lime, and pomelo serve as host plants for the larvae.

The shimmer of their wings often changes color when viewed from different angles, presenting different shades of enchanting green – a true masterpiece.

Mother of Pearl Butterfly (Protogoniomorpha parhassus)

Let’s discover the charm of the Mother of Pearl Butterfly, scientifically known as Protogoniomorpha parhassus.

This species brightens up several regions across Africa with its beautiful wing patterns.

Forest Mother-of-Pearl

  • Habitat: It dwells primarily in lush African rainforests.
  • Appearance: The Mother of Pearl Butterfly is known for its dappled mosaic of iridescent colors, including shades of green, cream, and grey.
  • Size: An adult butterfly can stretch its wings from 3 to 3.5 inches (75 to 90mm), creating a spectacle of color in flight.
  • Diet: As larvae, they munch on granadilla and corky-bark, while their adult diet comprises of nectar from various flowers.
  • Reproduction: Mating occurs in early summer, where females lay single eggs on the host plants.
  • Lifespan: Their lifespan ranges from two to three weeks in their butterfly stage.
  • Host Plants: Particular types of passion vine, such as Passiflora edulis, form the primary host plant for the larvae.

This iridescent butterfly is indeed a beautiful spectacle in its thriving habitat.

Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia)

The Silver-washed Fritillary is a charismatic butterfly species that’s coveted for its distinct iridescent wing patterns.

Silver-washed Fritillary butterfly

  • Habitat: This species is commonly found throughout Europe and Asia. They love open, broad-leaved forests, and aren’t shy about nearing human habitations.
  • Appearance: Adults display a vibrant mix of brown and orange on their upper wings. Their underwings sport characteristic silver streaks that give the species its name.
  • Size: Quite a large butterfly, the Silver-washed Fritillary boasts a wingspan of around 2.2-3.1 in (5.5-7.9 cm).
  • Diet: They feed on nectar from flowers like thistles, brambles, and knapweeds.
  • Reproduction: The females lay their eggs on the trunks of trees, the violet leaves serving as food for their larvae.
  • Lifespan: From egg to a mature butterfly, Silver-washed Fritillary lives approximately 4-5 weeks.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars make their home on various species of violets, feeding on their leaves.

Madagascan Sunset Moth (Chrysiridia rhipheus)

The Madagascan Sunset Moth is an aesthetic marvel from Madagascar. Witnessing its flight is akin to watching a stunning play of colors.

Madagascan Sunset Moth (Chrysiridia rhipheus)

  • Habitat: Native to the rainforests of Madagascar.
  • Appearance: Known for its vibrant, iridescent wings with colors spanning from green, red, to deep blue.
  • Size: A large-sized moth, with wingspans ranging from 2.8-3.5 inches (7-9 cm).
  • Diet: Larvae feed on plants, while adult moths primarily consume fluids through their extensive proboscis.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on the underside of host plant leaves. The caterpillars, once hatched, undergo five instar stages before becoming chrysalises.
  • Lifespan: As a moth, its life is fleeting, lasting only around a week. However, the entire lifecycle spans roughly two months.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars primarily feed on the Omphalea genus of plants, notably ‘Omphalea ankarana’ and ‘Omphalea lactifera’.

Clipper Butterfly (Parthenos sylvia)

The Clipper Butterfly is a captivating creature. Gaze upon it and be drawn into its surreal beauty.

Clipper Butterfly (Parthenos sylvia)

  • Habitat: It’s commonly found in Southeast Asia, thriving in forested areas.
  • Appearance: The impressions on its wings mimic a vibrant, abstract painting. A tapestry of blue, green, white, and black adorn its wings.
  • Size: It’s a sizable butterfly, with a wingspan reaching up to 3.5 inches (8.9 cm).
  • Diet: Its dietary needs are met with nectar from flowers or ripe fruits.
  • Reproduction: Like most butterflies, the female lays her eggs on the underside of leaves.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan of a Clipper Butterfly is approximately 9 months; relatively short but nontheless extraordinary.
  • Host Plants: The lifecycle of this butterfly relies heavily on two plant species: Adenia and Passionflower.

Take time to appreciate the Clipper Butterfly. Gaze upon its iridescent wings and be transported to its vibrant world.

Peacock Butterfly (Aglais io)

Imagine an encounter with the spectacular Peacock Butterfly, scientifically known as Aglais io.

Peacock Butterfly (Aglais io)

  • Habitat: Widely distributed across the temperate regions of Europe and Asia.
  • Appearance: Showcases a striking pattern of eye-spots on its hind and forewings, which creates a semblance of a peacock’s plumage.
  • Size: Enjoys a moderate wingspan ranging from 2.2 to 2.6 inches (5.5 to 6.6 cm).
  • Diet: As an adult, sips on nectar from a variety of flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Typically, each female lays about 400 eggs on nettle plants.
  • Lifespan: The average life cycle stretches from 11 to 13 months, a significant portion of which is spent in hibernation during winter.
  • Host Plants: Favors the leaves of the common nettle, where it lays eggs and where the caterpillars feed.

You’ll find it hard to miss the vibrant eye-spots, which serve not just as a beauty embellishment but as a cunning defense against predators. Truly, the Peacock Butterfly is a spectacle of nature’s art.

Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)

As you explore the butterfly world, the Small Tortoiseshell, scientific name Aglais urticae, won’t go unnoticed. It’s a delightful species you’d likely encounter in a variety of locations.

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

  • Habitat: A regular guest of gardens and parks across Europe and Asia. You may see them near the nettles, their official host plant.
  • Appearance: Distinguished by its tangerine-orange wings, decorated with black and yellow spots plus blue crescents along the wing edges.
  • Size: A medium-sized butterfly with a wingspan of 2-2.2 inches (50-56mm).
  • Diet: The adults often feed on nectar from flowers whereas, the caterpillars enjoy nettle leaves.
  • Reproduction: A single female can lay hundreds of eggs on the underside of nettle leaves.
  • Lifespan: Adults often survive for 11-12 months which is quite long for a butterfly. They hibernate during winter and reappear in spring.
  • Host Plants: Nettles are the chosen plant for their eggs and caterpillars.

Their vibrant hue makes them a jewel in any butterfly compilation.

Malay Lacewing (Cethosia biblis)

The Malay Lacewing (Cethosia biblis) is a picture of elegance. Its intricate lace-like patterns have lured butterfly aficionados for ages.

Malay Lacewing (Cethosia biblis)

  • Habitat: Generally found in primary rainforests throughout Southeast Asia, they relish the heightened humidity, warmth, and abundant food sources.
  • Appearance: With scarlet and black upper wings, and a delicate mix of red, white, and orange hues on their lower wings, they’re truly striking.
  • Size: They impress with a wingspan of roughly 3-3.5 inches (7.6-8.9 cm).
  • Diet: The adult butterflies feed primarily on nectar, while the striped larvae munch on passion vines.
  • Reproduction: The females lay their eggs on host plants. Butterflies emerge from pupae in about two weeks.
  • Lifespan: Like most butterflies, their lifespan as an adult is relatively short, usually around two to three weeks.
  • Host Plants: Main host plants include Passiflora species and Adenia heterophylla, catering to the needs of their larvae.

A true delight to observe, the Malay Lacewing turns heads wherever it touches down.

Cruiser Butterfly (Vindula arsinoe)

You’ll be excited to meet the Cruiser Butterfly, scientifically known as Vindula arsinoe. Recognized for its striking wing patterns, it’s native to the lush forests of Southeast Asia and Australia.

Cruiser butterfly

  • Habitat: Found primarily in the rainforests across New Guinea to Australia.
  • Appearance: An eye-catching array of orange and brown wings highlighted with white and blue spots.
  • Size: Exhibits a notable wingspan ranging from 3.1 to 3.5 inches (80 to 90 millimeters).
  • Diet: Adults feed on a variety of items including nectar, rotting fruits and upon occasion, animal dung.
  • Reproduction: Males display territorial behavior. Females lay eggs on the host plant’s leaves.
  • Lifespan: Typically ranges between 15 and 30 days which is quite usual in the butterfly world.
  • Host Plants: The larvae primarily feed on Adenia heterophylla, a type of tropical flowering plant.

Scarlet Mormon (Papilio rumanzovia)

The Scarlet Mormon, scientifically known as Papilio rumanzovia, is a striking butterfly. This species is abundant with magnificent colors and patterns that are meaningful in nature’s canvas.

Unmistakable and vivid, its display of hues catches the eye easily.

Scarlet Swallowtail butterfly

Let’s discover more about this magnificent creature:

  • Habitat: Mostly found in the tropical rainforests of the Philippines.
  • Appearance: The wings are predominantly black with bright red streaks. White and blue spots can also be spotted on the lower wings, making a beautiful contrast.
  • Size: Their wingspan can range anywhere from 3.9 to 5.9 inches (10-15cm).
  • Diet: The Scarlet Mormon mainly feeds on nectar from a variety of flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females attract males with pheromones. After mating, the female lays her eggs on the leaves of host plants.
  • Lifespan: They typically live up to 3-4 weeks.
  • Host Plants: They prefer to lay their eggs on Citrus plants, like lime and calamondin.

Similar to their cousins in the butterfly world, they amuse us with their lavish colors and ethereal presence.

Great Eggfly (Hypolimnas bolina)

Let’s fly into the world of the Great Eggfly. Also known as the Blue Moon Butterfly, this species has a unique, striking appearance that makes it one of the most admired butterfly species in the world.

Common Eggfly butterfly

  • Habitat: Predominantly found in South and South-East Asia, as well as some parts of Australia and the Pacific islands.
  • Appearance: The male has jet-black wings with iridescent blue spots. Females are brown with a series of striking white spots.
  • Size: Don’t mistake this Butterly for a moth – its wingspan can be from 2.5 to 3.1 inches (65 to 80mm).
  • Diet: Nectar feeders, they’re frequent visitors of many flowers, a common sight in gardens.
  • Reproduction: Females lay pale green eggs on the leaves of host plants.
  • Lifespan: Even though they only live for about two weeks, they’re known for their fascinating behavioural shifts and their dramatic metamorphosis.
  • Host Plants: The larvae feed on plants from the Acanthus family.

So you see, the Great Eggfly certainly lives up to its name, don’t you agree?

Common Bluebottle (Graphium sarpedon)

The Common Bluebottle, or more scientifically known as Graphium sarpedon, is indeed a captivating butterfly.

Its unique traits offer not just aesthetic satisfaction, but a fascinating peek into natural adaptability.

Common Bluebottle (Graphium sarpedon)

  • Habitat: Thrives in the forests of Australia, Southeast Asia, and Japan.
  • Appearance: Be captivated by their iridescent blue or green wings, encased by black edges.
  • Size: A medium to large butterfly, they span from 3 to 3.5 inches (7.5 to 8.75 cm).
  • Diet: Catch them feeding on nectar in brightly sunny areas.
  • Reproduction: They reproduce through eggs which are laid on host plants-
  • Lifespan: This promising butterfly enjoys a lifespan of about a week to month, typical of most butterflies.
  • Host Plants: It’s fascinated by the laurel family (Lauraceae), preferring to lay eggs there.

Immerse in the wonder of the fleeting beauty called Common Bluebottle. Each observation will surely be a charmer.

Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing (Trogonoptera brookiana)

Hailing from the tropical rainforests of Malaysia, Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing is a sight to behold. Inspired by Sir James Brooke, the Rajah of Sarawak, this butterfly is Malaysia’s national butterfly.

Rajah Brooke's Birdwing butterfly

  • Habitat: Predominantly found in lowland and hill forests of Malaysia.
  • Appearance: Primarily black with striking green and red on their dorsal forewings.
  • Size: Enormous in size, boasting a wingspan of up to 7 inches (almost 18 cm).
  • Diet: Gives preference to the nectar of flame-of-the-forest and hibiscus.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs singly on the back of leaves.
  • Lifespan: Short lived, usually up to 8 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Highly reliant on the Aristolochia plant, where females lay their eggs.

Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing is not your typical butterfly. It carries a regal aura, resonating as brightly as the British adventurer after whom it was named. The iridescent green patterns glinting from its wings is a vision of a lush rainforest on a sunny day.

Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

As you explore the colorful world of butterflies, the Pipevine Swallowtail, known scientifically as Battus philenor, is a captivating sight to behold.

Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: Broadly distributed in North and Central America, you can spot this beauty in a variety of habitats including forests, fields, and gardens.
  • Appearance: Characterized by iridescent blue or blue-green wings, the males are more vibrant compared to the females.
  • Size: On average, these butterflies have a wingspan of 2.5 to 4 inches or roughly (6.5 to 10 cm).
  • Diet: Pipevine Swallowtails feed on nectar from a variety of flowers. The caterpillars consume Aristolochia species, hence their name.
  • Reproduction: Females lay clusters of eggs on the underside of host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: With a life expectancy of 2 weeks as adults, their entire life cycle lasts 3 to 4 months.
  • Host Plants: The Pipevine (Aristolochia spp.) serves as their primary host plant, providing both food and shelter.

Next time you’re in their natural habitats, be sure to look out for them. Just remember, never disturb or harm these beautiful creatures!

Glasswinged Butterfly (Greta oto)

Meet the fascinating Greta oto, commonly known as the ‘Glasswinged Butterfly’. As you delve into the world of this unique creature, be ready to admire its exquisite beauty and uniqueness.

Glasswinged Butterfly (Greta oto)

  • Habitat: Predominantly found in the humid, tropical rainforests of Central and South America.
  • Appearance: Their most distinguishing feature is their transparent wings – a result of tissue devoid of color scales.
  • Size: Remarkably small, wingspans range between 2.2 to 2.4 inches (5.6 to 6.1 cm).
  • Diet: Equally attracted to common and uncommon nectar-producing flowers, they have a preference for flowers of the Asteraceae and Boraginaceae families.
  • Reproduction: Females lay tiny eggs on the nightshade plant, which transforms into caterpillars munching on these toxic plants, making them poisonous to predators.
  • Lifespan: Typically, adults live for about three weeks.
  • Host Plants: Primarily, they use plants from the nightshade family (Solanaceae) for the development of their larvae.

The Glasswinged Butterfly is a perfect example of nature’s beauty, displaying awe-inspiring adaptation for survival.

Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi)

The Green Hairstreak, scientifically known as Callophrys rubi, is an enchanting butterfly species.

Green Hairstreak

Let’s get to know this little marvel better:

  • Habitat: Predominantly found in Europe and Asia, it thrives in grasslands, open woodlands, and scrubby areas.
  • Appearance: Underneath, the wings display an entrancing iridescent green. Yet, the upper side is dark brown, almost concealed when at rest.
  • Size: Petite in physical dimensions, with a wingspan from 1 to 1.4 inches (25-35mm).
  • Diet: Adult Green Hairstreaks largely feed on flower nectar. The caterpillars prefer a herbivorous diet.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on the underside of their host plants. These hatch into caterpillars which metamorphose into butterflies.
  • Lifespan: Remarkably, they survive for around 16 days as adult butterflies.
  • Host Plants: The larvae feed on an array of plants, including Gorse, Bilberry, Dogwood, and Buckthorn.

Undoubtedly, the Green Hairstreak’s vivacious colors and unique characteristics make it a significant part of our ecosystem.


We have explored the phenomenal world of iridescent winged butterflies, circling the globe from Asia to South America, encountering an array of dazzling, delicate species.

It’s a testament to nature’s artistry and the diverse beauty these insects bring to our planet.

We’d love to hear which butterfly captivated you most; don’t hesitate to leave a comment!

Butterflies   Updated: July 5, 2023
avatar Welcome to Insectic, a blog to learn about insects and bugs. I'm Richard, and I've created this website to share my experience, knowledge, and passion with others.

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