Insect Identification logo

Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Blue Morpho.


 Updated: 2/8/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org



  Blue Morpho  
Picture of Blue-Morpho
Picture of Blue-Morpho Picture of Blue-MorphoPicture of Blue-MorphoPicture of Blue-MorphoPicture of Blue-Morpho


Observers of the huge Blue Morpho are in for a surprise once it spreads its wings and flashes a stunning sapphire color.





The large, tropical Blue Morpho butterfly is common in the tropical parts of Central America, but its range also includes Mexico in North America. The wingspan of this giant beauty can stretch to almost 20 cm (8 inches) across. They are shy and tend to flutter away from objects (and people) approaching it. The quick flashes of blue color seen as they flap their wings are thought to distract or confuse predators. The saturated hue is made possible by small reflective scales that cover the wings. Each iridescent scale contributes to the overall shade seen by human eyes. The direction and intensity of light in the area directly impacts the shade of blue one will see, so a moving butterfly may appear to change hues while in flight. The brown underside of the wings is more often visible than the topside because they perch on flowers with their wings closed. Each forewing has two large black and yellow eyespots. A creamy white double line borders the edge. Four eyespots are on the smaller hindwing, the first of which is substantially larger than the rest. The edge of the hindwing is bordered with a creamy line as well as a vibrant orange one. The many eyespots may act to confuse a predator, suggesting a cluster of creatures instead of one butterfly. Their wings are fragile, and the delicate scales can easily rub off on contact.

Blue Morphos tend to live in groups. Their lifespan is less than 4 months. Living in close proximity with each other helps maintain a local population, but also provides increased confusion in predators thanks to the many eyespots and flickers of cobalt blue a group of Blue Morphos can create. Caterpillars are reddish brown and black with large spots of yellow on them. The head, underbelly and rear are covered with tufts of stinging white and brown hairs. Caterpillars eat the leaves of clover and legumes found in the Pea plant family. Adults drink the juices of spoiling tropical fruits. Some of these juices may have started fermenting as they rot, producing an alcohol by-product which may make the butterflies slightly inebriated as they feed.
Basic Information
Common Name: Blue Morpho
Scientific Name: Morpho peleides
Category: Butterfly or Moth


General Identification
Size (Adult; Length): 65mm to 80mm (2.54in to 3.12in)
Colorwheel Graphic
Identifying Colors: blue, black, brown, white, orange, tan, green
Additional Descriptors: flying, beneficial, large, shiny, iridescent




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Nymphalidae
Genus: Morpho
Species: peleides


Butterfly and Moth Anatomy
Graphic showing basic anatomy of a common North American butterfly and moth insect
1
Antennae: Butterflies and Moths have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
2
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and proboscis.
3
Thorax: Home to the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
4
Abdomen: Contains vital internal organs such as the heart(s) and reproduction facilities.
5
Forewing: The upper, forward wing pair used for flying.
6
Hindwing: The lower, rearward wing pair used for flying.
NOTE: Butterflies and Moths are part of the Lepidopteran order as they share many similarities.


Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed below as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections below indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Canadian National Flag Graphic
Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
Mexico


Territorial Area Map (Visual Reference Guide)
The map below showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Blue Morpho may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data can be useful in seeing concentrations of a particular species over the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some species are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America.
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
State of Alabama graphic
State of Arizona graphic
State of Arkansas graphic
State of California graphic
State of Colorado graphic
State of Delware graphic
State of Florida graphic
State of Georgia graphic
State of Idaho graphic
State of Illinois graphic
State of Indiana graphic
State of Iowa graphic
State of Kansas graphic
State of Kentucky graphic
State of Louisiana graphic
State of Maine graphic
State of Maryland graphic
State of Michigan graphic
State of Minnesota graphic
State of Mississippi graphic
State of Missouri graphic
State of Montana graphic
State of Nebraska graphic
State of Nevada graphic
State of New England graphic
State of New Jersey graphic
State of New Mexico graphic
State of New York graphic
State of North Carolina graphic
State of North Dakota graphic
State of Ohio graphic
State of Oklahoma graphic
State of Oregon graphic
State of Pennsylvania graphic
State of South Carolina graphic
State of South Dakota graphic
State of Tennessee graphic
State of Texas graphic
State of Utah graphic
State of Virginia graphic
State of Washington graphic
State of West Virginia graphic
State of Wisconsin graphic
State of Wyoming graphic
Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic


Images Gallery for the Blue Morpho
VIEW GALLERY
VIEW GALLERY


BugFinder: What is It?
BUGFINDER SEARCH TOOL
BUGFINDER SEARCH TOOL