Monday, September 14, 2009

Blue Morpho Month at Callaway Gardens’ Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center

September is Blue Morpho Butterfly Month at Callaway Gardens’ Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center. In addition to the more than 1,000 tropical butterflies flying freely throughout the conservatory, there will be hundreds of spectacular Blue Morpho butterflies.

The Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides) is a spectacular iridescent blue butterfly native to the rainforests of South and Central America. The undersides of the wings are brown with eyespots with a contrasting vivid blue color on the outer side. This iridescent color actually results from microscopic scales on the backs of their wings reflecting light, giving the brilliant shimmering blue appearance. As a Blue Morpho flies, its contrasting wing colors of bright blue and dull brown fool the eye and make the morpho look as if it is appearing and disappearing. The word ‘morpho’ actually means change or modify. The flash of the bright blue side of their wings actually startles predators, giving the butterfly time to escape harm. This tropical butterfly is usually a forest dweller but will venture into sunny areas occasionally. It is one of the largest butterflies with a wingspan of 5-8 inches.

Since they feed on juices of rotting fruit, they are usually easy to find in the Day Butterfly Center at the fruit feeders. Blue Morphos often fly in long chains of five or more to make a spectacular sight. Be sure to visit the Day Butterfly Center this month to view these magnificent creatures.

Due to the large size of the Blue Morphos, they make beautiful subjects as they float through the air for photos or video. The best time to photograph butterflies at the Day Butterfly Center is on sunny days before 10:00 a.m. or after 2:00 p.m. is on sunny days as they are most active between these hours.

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