9 Blue Morpho Butterfly Facts – the Gorgeous Species with Short Life

The blue morpho butterfly is one of the most beautiful and fascinating butterfly species in the world. Its beauty goes beyond expectations. Their iridescent blue wings make them a favorite among butterfly enthusiasts and scientists. Let’s have a look at some of the most interesting facts about blue morpho butterflies.

Blue morpho
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Genus: Morpho

1. The Blue morpho butterfly is Not Blue

Yes, you heard it right! Despite what you see and think, the blue morpho butterfly does not possess any blue pigmentation. As blue is a highly unusual color in nature, the shade of blue on the blue morpho butterfly’s wings is achieved through the use of structural color.

A common blue morpho butter

This butterfly possesses very small scales that have a diamond shape on its wings. These scales are arranged in a complicated, causing incoming light to scatter and interact with one another. As a result, when light strikes the wings, it is refracted by the scales and appears blue.

This effect is a sort of optical illusion known as iridescence, which demonstrates how colors shift depending on the observer’s angle.

The blue morpho inspires scientists to apply their light-reflecting capabilities to different technological aspects, such as iridescent strips integrated into bills to avert counterfeiting and energy-saving color displays for electronic devices.

2. There are many types of morpho species

Any blue butterfly belonging to the morpho genus of the Nymphalidae family is called a “blue morpho.” The term “morpho” is believed to have come from the butterflies’ appearance of changing shape while in flight.

There are about 29 blue morpho butterfly species and 147 subspecies.

– Morpho menelaus: a member of the subfamily Morphonae and is native to Central and South America. It has a wingspan of approximately 12 centimeters (4.7 inches).

– Morpho didius or the giant blue morpho: also belongs to the subfamily Morphonae. It’s one of the biggest blue morpho species with a wingspan of 15 centimeters (5.9 inches).

Types of blue morpho butterfly

– Morpho helena: also known as Morpho rhetenor helena. This stunning species has iridescent blue, with black edges and white spots on its wings.

– Blue banded morpho is also called banded blue morpho or Achilles morpho. This species is quite different than other blue morpho butterflies. The blue color is also shown in two wide vertical bands on the top of its wings.

The other blue morpho butterly species besides these 3 includes Morpho aega, Rhetenor blue morpho, morpho adonis butterfly, morpho peleides, morpho cypris butterfly, morpho godarti butterfly (or Godart’s morpho), Aurora morpho, etc.

3. Only the Males Are Blue

This gorgeous blue color is only seen in males. It serves both as a way to intimidate rival males in their highly territorial nature and to attract potential mates with their noticeable visibility.

Females, on the other hand, showcase a range of brown, yellow, and black shades on their wings. Some of them may have faint traces of blue coloration, however, they are far less vibrant than their male counterparts.

Blue morpho males and females are different

Interestingly, there are rare cases of blue morpho butterflies exhibiting both male and female traits. One of their wings is blue, while the other has a neutral color. This condition is known as sexual dimorphism.

The blue morpho is one of the biggest butterflies. It has a wingspan of up to 8 inches (20 cm), with males boasting broader wings than females. This makes the butterfly fifteen times larger than the Western Pygmy blue butterfly, which has a wingspan of only 0.5 in (1.3 cm).

4. They don’t feed on nectar

As a caterpillar, the blue morpho butterfly eats a variety of plants, but it loves the plants of the pea family. These plants contain poisonous chemicals. The morphos use this poison as a way to protect themselves from predators.

The adult morphos are also herbivorous and have a more diverse diet. Unlike most butterflies, blue morphos do not feed on nectar or pollen. Instead, they consume the juice of tree sap, wet mud, decomposing animals, fungi, and fermented fruits. Despite a weird diet, these insects still play an important role in pollinating.

To drink liquids, the species use their proboscis which is their long, extending mouthpart. Before injecting their proboscis to eat things, the butterflies have to test food first. Typically, they use their antennae to sense pheromones and chemical signals. Or they can use their leg sensors to taste objects. This allows them to determine whether things have food or are more suitable for other uses, such as resting or laying eggs.

Their potential predators are the jacamar and flycatcher.

5. Habitat

The blue morpho butterfly is found in the Amazon and Atlantic tropical forests and has also extended to neotropical areas such as South America, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Mexico, Brazil, and Central America. Living in these warm habitats, they do not hibernate.

Typically, adults stay in the understory and forest floor, keeping their wings folded. However, when searching for a mate, blue morphos can fly through all levels of the forest.

Blue morpho butterflies have many spiritual meanings. Some cultures view sighting a blue morpho as a sign of a wish being granted, while some believe that these butterflies carry evil spirits.

6. They can detect UV light

Blue morpho butterflies are diurnal, with their highest activity levels occurring when the sun is shining. They sleep at night. The males are active in the early morning whereas the females usually seek out food in the late morning to afternoon. Depending on the species, their peak hours of activity are different.

Morpho butterflies have highly sensitive eyes that can detect UV light. Males, in particular, can spot each other from a long distance.

These butterflies are easily visible in well-lit environments, as the sun reflects off their glistening wings./Cre: on pic

Although these butterflies are solitary creatures, they may congregate in groups during mating or while feeding. Caterpillars, on the other hand, are social and live in small groups.

7. Their wings help them survive

While the top of the blue morpho butterfly’s wing is shimmeringly blue, the underside exhibits a stark contrast color. It’s a blend of grey, black, red, and brown tint along with circular markings known as ocelli along the edges of the wings.

Blue morpho in flight

The unique color contrast provides an effective camouflage for the butterfly when it rests on a surface. The wings are closed, showing the underside with dark colors. This blends the blue morpho butterfly seamlessly with the surrounding bark and leaves and makes it undetectable to predators. The ocelli, resembling the big eyes of an animal, further adds to the butterfly’s deceptive appearance.

The underside of the wing is dark in color

In addition, the blue morpho butterfly possesses a “flashing” technique to protect itself. During the flight, the wings transition from a striking blue to a dull brown, causing the butterfly to appear to vanish and reappear continuously. This bewilders predators and makes it challenging for them to track the blue winged butterfly amidst the dense foliage of the jungle. All the predators see are blue flashes.

This natural defense is akin to the tactics employed by magicians to misdirect their audience during performances.

To increase the defensive system, the blue morpho also has a gland on its front legs. When threatened, it will release a potent scent to deter predators.

8. Life cycle is short

During the mating season, the males emit chemicals to woo females and then transfer their sperm. The females then lay fertilized eggs on the underside of the leaves of host plants. These eggs are semi-transparent with olive color and brown-spotted pattern.

The special thing is that the eggs have camouflage ability to evade predators. This unique form of camouflage is not commonly seen in nature, especially in unborn species. The eggs change colors, varying from green to brown to white, and after 16 days, they turn brownish-black before hatching.

The blue morpho butterfly caterpillars emerge with a reddish-brown appearance with greenish-yellow spots. They also have small hair tufts that come in various shades of red, ranging from white, pink, and scarlet to deep rust.

Blue morpho butterfly reproduction

Their larval stage lasts for 8 weeks, during which they experience significant changes in five instars of development. The caterpillar’s color turns to a bright green as it approaches the pupa stage. Their hair tufts become white and smaller.

The green cocoon (chrysalis) attached to the large leaves for about 2 weeks. This is a crucial stage, during which the eyes, legs, and wings of the blue morpho butterfly develop.

The butterflies emerge and have a big body with small and wrinkled wings. After peeing, their body size will reduce. Then, they pump blood into their wings. After 20 minutes, their wings expand significantly. The newly emerged butterflies have a lifespan of 2 to 3 weeks, during which they must find a mate before dying.

9. They Face Many Threats

Besides natural predators, the blue morpho butterfly is seriously vulnerable to tropical forest destruction and the fragmentation of their habitats. Additionally, their stunning appearance also causes them vulnerable to being captured for artistic or collection intentions, or for crafting jewelry from their wings.



Animal Facts 276

We are passionate animal enthusiasts with over a decade of experience studying animals. With a degree in zoology and conservation biology, we've contributed to various research and conservation projects. We're excited to bring you engaging content that highlights the wonders of the animal kingdom. We aim to inspire others to appreciate and protect wildlife through informative content grounded in expertise and passion. Join us as we delve into the captivating world of animals and discover the incredible stories they have to tell.

Leave a Comment