Blue Morpho Butterfly Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Terry Dunn

Terry has a master's degree in environmental communications and has taught in a variety of settings.

Tropical rainforests are known for having remarkable and strange creatures. Blue morpho butterflies fit that description perfectly. Here you will learn what they are and what features and habits make them rainforest standouts.

Blue Morphos…What Are Those?

Imagine a leaf-eating creature that starts out crawling then completely transforms into a creature that can fly, but can't even chew. Now imagine that this creature's liquid diet includes juice from rotting fruit and fluids from dead animals. Oh, and how about the fact that it also has six legs, antenna that can smell and taste, sensors on its legs that can also taste, and a stinky odor that it secretes when it's bothered?

If this creature was larger than you, you might call it a monster. But, in reality, it's not that large, and it's a beautiful, shimmering blue color. The creature is a blue morpho butterfly, and it leaves visitors to the tropical rainforest with a thrilling impression!

A blue morpho butterfly with its wings opened
blue morpho butterfly wings open

Blue Morpho Features

As you may already know, butterflies start out as caterpillars. For blue morphos, the caterpillar is not even blue. It's a combination of brown and bright green. They hatch from an egg then spend their young lives chomping leaves. Eventually they build a chrysalis (similar to a cocoon that a moth would build) around themselves.

When they emerge, they look nothing like the caterpillar. The upper sides of their four wings are a metallic blue. The undersides have brown patterns, sometimes arranged to look like big eyes. Those are called eyespots, and they are designed to scare off things that might eat them. The brown colors help them blend into their surroundings (when an animal blends into its surroundings it's called camouflage). Blue morphos tend to keep their wings folded when they land to hide from hungry birds, lizards, frogs and insects.

The blue morpho caterpillar looks nothing like the adult butterfly
blue morpho caterpillar

Like all insects, blue morpho butterflies have six legs and three body segments. As far as butterflies go though, they are one of the biggest in the world, with wingspans between 5 and 8 inches across.

Strange Eating Habits and Magical Colors

Not only are they unable to chew once they're butterflies, they have to sip through a straw-like mouth part called up proboscis. That limits what they can eat, but still, it's a strange diet that includes juice from rotting fruit, minerals from mud, tree sap and liquids from dead, rotting animals. With antennas that can smell and taste and also sensors on their legs that can taste, you do have to wonder about that diet!

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