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Blue Morpho butterfly (Morpho peleides) wings open | by Johan J.Ingles-Le Nobel
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Blue Morpho butterfly (Morpho peleides) wings open

I'm lucky enough to live within a few miles of the Royal Horticultural Society's garden at Wisley in the English county of Surrey south of London, which is one of the three most visited paid gardens in the United Kingdom. During January & February Wisley adds butterflies to its enormous greenhouse, and it is a super way to spend a morning dispelling the winter blues with the children at half term. This Blue morpo is the most colourful butterfly that they have, and dozens of them flye through the air. They tend to sit with their wings closed (butterflies open their wings when they need heat) but sometimes you catch one like this!

 

Many Morpho butterflies are colored in metallic, shimmering shades of blue and green. These colors are not a result of pigmentation but are an example of iridescence: the microscopic scales covering the Morpho's wings reflect incident light repeatedly at successive layers, leading to interference effects that depend on both wavelength and angle of incidence/observance. Thus the colors produced vary with viewing angle, however they are actually surprisingly uniform, perhaps due to the tetrahedral (diamond-like) structural arrangement of the scales or diffraction from overlying cell layers. This structure may be likened to a photonic crystal

 

The Peleides Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides) is an iridescent tropical butterfly found in Mexico, Central America, northern South America,Paraguay and Trinidad.

 

The Blue Morpho Butterfly (Morpho peleides) drinks the juices from rotting fruits for food. Its favourites are mango, kiwi, and lychee. Blue Morpho butterflies live in the rainforests of South America, and can be found in Mexico and Central America.The wingspan of the Blue Morpho butterfly ranges from 7.5 cm to 20 cm.The entire Blue Morpho Butterfly lifecycle, from egg to adult is only 115 days. The larvae of Blue Morpho Butterflies are cannibals. The caterpillar Blue Morpho Butterfly is red-brown with patches of bright green.

 

The brilliant blue color in the butterfly's wings is caused by the diffraction of the light from millions of tiny scales on its wings. It uses this to frighten away predators, by flashing its wings rapidly. The Blue Morpho Butterflies stick together in groups to deter their predators, a form of Mobbing behavior.

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Taken on February 19, 2010