Creatures of the Amazon
The Blue Morpho

By Mike Collis

These magnificent butterflies can be seen fluttering around everywhere in the rainforest. Growing up to 8 inches across they are among the largest butterflies on Earth. With the latin name Morpho peleides the Blue Morpho comes into sight and then quickly disappears. This is because the upper side of their beautiful blue wings reflect the light and the underside being a dull brown with black spots this provides camouflage. So they appear to come and go.

These butterflies live throughout tropical South America from Mexico to Bolivia. Most of the time the adult Blue Morphos live in the lower trees with their wings folded upwards in the camouflage mode. When it's time to find a mate the Blue Morpho will fly over all layers of the forest. The lifetime of a Blue Morpho is no more than 115 days and they spend most of that time mating and eating. The diet of these creatures actually depends on which part of their life cycle they are in. When it is in the caterpillar form it continuously devours leaves and foilage, it is quite parial to leaves of the pea plant variety. When it changes into a butterfly its diet changes completely too. It drinks it food because it cannot chew. It is particularly fond of the juice of rotting fruit, fungi and even the fluids of dead and decomposing bodies. The Blue Morpho uses the extended part of it's head called a probiscis to suck up its liquid diet.
Apart from human encroachment on their habitat, collectors, the local people who kill them believing all caterpillars are poisonous, their only predators in the wild are birds like the flycatchers and jacamares.
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