Caterpillar of the day: Morpho sp.

So far I have come across 2 caterpillar specimens of what I just found out are Morpho sp. Morphos are one of the world’s most beautiful creatures. The top of their forewings are a truly dazzling iridescent blue. In addition they are quite large butterflies (species range from 7.5 cm to 20 cm wingspan) so you can see them from great distances. They have a reputation for being notoriously difficult to catch. Henry Walter Bates even remarks on the difficulty of catching Morphos in his book: The Naturalist on the River Amazons. Here is a photo of an adult in a collection:


I see a Morpho almost every day here, but it is very difficult to get a good photo, because they are always moving. When they land they keep their wings closed and stay very still. Here is a photo of a Morpho that I took earlier this trip:

Morpho sp. (Nymphalidae)

Yup, those are eyespots! These ones have been harder for biologists to explain because they are constantly displayed and not really paired in the way you might expect eye-like markings to be. The caterpillars have an odd colouration too. Below are two specimens that are yet to identified down to species.

This one is from San Gerardo Station:

And this one is from La Perla Station:

Very similar looking specimens but you can see differences in the colour pattern if you look closely.


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