The Morpho is one of the sexiest insects on our planet. Many believe that it originated in the Amazon region, having taken millions of year to reach then tropical rainforest of Central America. The Morpho possesses a combination of beauty and camouflage. The underside of its wings is brown in color and imitates the eyes of birds in order to create a deceptive tarhget for its predators. This concealment is useful given that the Morpho can only fly with 40% of its wings.
The Morpho is a consummate and precocious lover. Within two minutes of schedding its chrysalis, it is ready to mate. Copulation can last from twenty minutes to nine hours.
The ancient inhabitants of Meso-America were especially fond of the Morpho and its turquoise color. Nahuatl populations believed it was a living jewel. They named it “matlalpapalotl”, meaning something like “butterfly with precious wings.” Hence, its wings wwere venerated as much as the feathers of the Quetzal.
The velvet blue of the Morpho butterfly is an optical illusion: in reality the top part of its wings is transparent. While the entire spectrum of light passes through tiny translucid scales, only the blue color is reflected back to our eyes. The next time you see this metallic, turquoise blue, which is the fascinating secret charm of the Morpho, is the result of light itself, not a pigment.
Practical Advice for Observing morpho
Search for rivers, creeks, edges of gullys, paths in forests, and , mountain passes, position yourself near fruits trees-bananas, guanabanas, sapodilla, cacao, and rubber trees-especially where their fruits is fermenting on the ground (theobroma cacao, Manikara, Brosimum). There, you will also find the Morpho’s predators-the Tropical Kingbird and the Great Jacamar, and the Rufous-tailed Jacamar.
The Morpho lays its eggs in the Lilac tree. The surest way to know that you are in Morpho’s territory is to find this tree that happens to grow in the most adverse conditions imaginable and from you can see larvae and caterpillars suspended from the underside of the leaves. The Morpho will be traveling along airy passage ways searching for food and a mate.
The Morpho cis attracted to perspiration. In general, butterflies find sweaty people and well-used hats irresistible, as well as people who wear red or yellow (incidentally, the same color as the caterpillar). Red umbrellas are even more appealing. An ideal moment for taling photographs of the blue side of the wings is after rain, when the Morpho will be out drying its wings.
Where to see them
The Morpho can be seen almost throughout thr entire year in humid forests. In the Gunacaste Conservation Area and Santa Rosa , a spectacular time for viewing the Morpho is the two week period after the first rainfall in May, at which time you will experience massive explosions of Morpho along river banks. In the humid regions of Guanacaste, the optimal months are July and August, as well as the morning during rainy seasons.