Blue Morpho

This is another view from inside The Butterfly Jungle at the San Diego Zoo. This huge butterfly loves to land on people’s hair, camera and lenses but generally likes to rest on the sides of trees which act as natural camouflage. They are known for their iridescent colors!

While not all Morphos have iridescent coloration, they all have ocelli, or eyes on their wings. In most species only the males are colorful, supporting the theory that the coloration is used for intrasexual communication between males.

Many Morpho butterflies are colored in metallic, shimmering shades of  blue and green on the inside. These colors are not a result of pigmentation but are an example of iridescence: the microscopic scales covering the Morpho’s wings  reflect incident light repeatedly at successive layers, leading to  interference effects that depend on both wavelength and angle of incidence/observance. Thus the colors produced vary with viewing angle, however they are actually surprisingly uniform, perhaps due to the tetrahedral (diamond-like) structural arrangement of the scales or diffraction from overlying cell layers.

5 responses

  1. Really great post today, Erik, love all the information! What a fascinating little creature. Truly some of the best photos of a butterfly I can ever remember seeing!!

    April 25, 2011 at 8:00 pm

  2. beautiful shots…… good job of shooting different aspects of this little fella.

    April 25, 2011 at 10:49 pm

  3. Toni Aull


    April 26, 2011 at 12:21 am

  4. Which macro are you using? I use Kenkos but considering the Canon 100 mm.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:38 am

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