What Are the Adaptations for Survival of the Blue Morpho Butterfly?

Adaptations for survival of the adult blue morpho butterfly include its coloration, eyespots on its wings, flight speed and unpleasant odor when threatened. Among the blue morpho caterpillar survival adaptations are irritating body hairs and foul-smelling fluid secretions.

Blue morpho butterflies get their brilliant coloration from tiny metallic scales on the upper part of their wings that are iridescent in light. The undersides of their wings are dull brown and marked with eyespots. When they are at rest or feeding, they close their wings. The dull color on the underside of the wings camouflages them in the forest, and the eyespots function as protective mimicry that deters predators such as birds or insects. As their wings flutter in flight, because of the contrast of the bright and dull sides of the wings, blue morpho butterflies seem to vanish and reappear, making it difficult for predators to catch them. Their large wings enable them to fly strongly to elude predators. They also have scent glands between their front legs that emit an odor when they are in danger.

The prickling red and yellow hairs young caterpillars sprout are irritating enough to discourage predators. Blue morpho caterpillars also have glands on their thoraxes that emit rancid-smelling fluid, which makes them unpalatable.