This photo is my proudest accomplishment as a photographer, and I have it framed in a bright green frame with a blue mat hanging on my living room wall. I took it back in 2008 during a visit to the Academy of Sciences’ Rainforest Exhibit. If you’ve been there, you know it’s an enclosed 90-ft. dome with a spiral staircase up to the top. I took this photo from the top looking down on the first floor, hand-held with a zoom.
The Blue Morpho butterfly is an interesting creature from the Amazon rainforest, from Mexico to Colombia. It’s not really blue. Its color is caused by light reflecting off microscopic scales on the back of their wings which makes it look iridescent and blue. The underside is camouflaged in brown, black and grey to keep predators away, so when it flies the contrasting bright blue and dull brown colors flash, making it look like it’s appearing and disappearing and that makes it hard for predators to follow. They can also release a strong odor when a predator is near.
It’s one of the largest butterflies in the world with a wingspan of 5-8 inches. They can’t chew, so they use their proboscis as a straw to suck up sweet fluids. The Blue Morpho butterfly only lives four months and they spend most of their lives feeding and reproducing. Traditionally, the native people were superstitious and alternately thought they were either wish granters or evil spirits. Like many Amazon specifies, they’re threatened by deforestation and habitat fragmentation, and also those who collect them for for artistic purposes, like making jewelry out of their wings. I say they’re better left in places like the Academy of Sciences so we can view them through our lenses.
Written by Susan 4/4/18