Morpho peleides, also by default known as the “Blue Morpho” or in some cases Peleides Blue Morpho, as they are a lot of different Morpho species of which most also appear blue – is an iridiscent blue butterfly that is found in South America and Central America.
- Difficulty rating: Moderate (Easy for a butterfly but needs more effort than moths)
- Rearing difficulty: 6/10 (From egg to pupa)
- Pairing difficulty: 6/10 (Archieving copulations)
- Host plants: Eats Fabaceae such as Wisteria, Arachnis, Trifolium, Muccuna, Cassia. Larvae will feed on a wider range of Fabaceae than adults are willing to oviposit on
- Natural range: Central and South America
- Polyphagous: Yes but probably mainlyon Fabaceae
- Generations: Multivoltine (continuous breeding)
- Family: Nymphalidae (brush footed butterflies)
- Pupation: Chrysalis
- Prefered climate: Tropical – hot and humid
- Special notes: This species is being farmed commercially on a large scale – pupae are high in demand because it is one of the most popular species in tropical butterfly houses
Interesting about these insects is that they do not utilise blue pigment in order to archieve their blue colour. Instead, the scales absorb every colour except blue, which is reflected. The structure of the wing scales is responsible for this – their structure doesn’t allow light with the wavelength of blue to pass. In fact, it would be correct to state that this butterfly is technically not blue despite it’s appearance.
The underside of the wings is rather brown and decorated with ocelli (=eyespots) meant to ward off potential predators. With their wings closed they are quite inconspicuous.
This butterfly does not visit flowers and consume nectar. Instead, the Blue Morpho consumes fruit juice from fallen rotten fruits which are common in the forests they live, aswell as various other juices that are rich in sugar or minerals (tree sap, mineral deposits and sometimes even juices from feces or animal carcasses)
They feed on a very wide range of Leguminosae (pea family). In captivity, Trifolium sp. (clover), Wisteria (wisteria), Mucuna (velvet bean), Medicago sativa (alfalfa), Robinia (black locust), Arachis (peanut plant) are commonly used to rear them.
The caterpillars have a yellow body and some parts are covered in red hairs. They will grow quite large (about 9cm) over time and in their final instar assume a rather rusty brown/red colour. Shortly before pupating however, they will turn bright green. The pupae also have this green colour, and are well-camouflaged on foliage, resembling some kind of berry or fruit.
You’d have a hard time spotting these in nature, hidden between the green leaves
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Citations: Coppens, B. (2019); Written by Bart Coppens; based on a real life breeding experience [for citations in literature and publications]
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