One of the largest and most striking of the butterflies to be found flitting through 'Butterfly Journey', Blue Morphos have a wingspan sometimes exceeding 15cm.
Their dazzling, iridescent blue sheen is created by the diffraction of light off the millions of tiny scales covering their wings. In the wild they flash their wings to startle predators, giving them an extra fraction of a second to beat a hasty retreat.
At Chester Zoo the Blue Morpho is one of the butterfly species we breed regularly. Our Horticulture & Botanic team grow peanuts in their greenhouses and then supply them to our butterfly keepers once they are about 30cm tall. These are then placed in the Butterfly Journey exhibit for the adult butterflies to lay their eggs on.
The whole life cycle from egg, through caterpillar and metamorphosis (in a pupae), to adult butterfly takes around four months. Blue Morpho caterpillars and pupa can usually be seen in the Butterfly Journey breeding room and ‘Puparium’.
Where they live: Central America and northern South America
Habitat: Tropical Forests
Diet: Adults feed on juices of ripe and rotting fruits such as mango and lychees. Caterpillars feed on Pterocarpus trees and can also be cannabalistic!
Size: Wingspan up to 20cm (8inches)
Conservation status: IUCN Red List: Not assessed, but not globally threatened
Threats: Habitat loss and degradation. Possibly local over-collection for butterfly trade.