The blue morpho butterfly, native to Central and South America, is fascinating for its metallic blue colour. Spreading from 5 to 8 inches, it is one of the largest butterflies on the planet.
The blue morpho looks blue, but it is not actually coloured blue. The illusion is due to microscopic scales on the top side of the butterfly's wings that reflect blue light. Underneath the scales, the wings are transparent.
The underside of the blue morpho's wing is brown, so when it is at rest with its wings folded, it blends into its surroundings and is thus less vulnerable.
The blue morpho has a number of large spots on the underside of each wing. The wing spots look like eyes, which serve to frighten predators.
When the blue morpho flies, the alternating of the blue and brown of the top and bottom of the wings makes it look like it is disappearing and reappearing. This serves to confuse birds or other animals that might try to eat it.
A Butterfly's Body
Like all butterflies, the blue morpho has two antennae that end in tiny clubs, two front and two rear wings and six legs. Butterflies bodies are composed of a head, thorax and abdomen.
According to the St. Louis Zoo's website, the blue morpho's wings are so brilliant that aeroplane pilots can see them flying over the top of the rainforest canopy.