Morpho amathonte

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Morpho amathonte
Nymphalidae - Morpho amathonte.JPG
Female from Colombia
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Nymphalidae
Genus: Morpho
Species: M. amathonte
Binomial name
Morpho amathonte
(Deyrolle, 1860)

Morpho amathonte is a Neotropical butterfly belonging to the subfamily Morphinae of the family Nymphalidae. It is considered, by some authors,[who?] to be a subspecies of Morpho menelaus.

The genus Morpho is palatable but some species (such as M. amathonte) are very strong fliers; birds – even species which are specialized for catching butterflies on the wing – find it very hard to catch them.[1][2] The conspicuous blue coloration shared by most Morpho species may be a case of Müllerian mimicry, or may be 'pursuit aposematism'.[3]


Morpho amathonte has a wingspan of about 100–150 millimetres (3.9–5.9 in). This species shows an evident sexual dimorphism which differentiates males from females. The basic color in males is bright metallic blue, sometimes bluish. In the females the upper surfaces of the wings are partially blue and have a wide dark gray-brown margins, decorated with small white spots running along the outer edge of both wings. From closely related species Morpho amathonte is distinguished by a large dark spot at the top of the front wings. The undersides of the wings are brown, becoming lighter towards the edges, with three or four colorful and bright eyespots clearly visible on each wing.


This species can be found in Panama, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador.


  1. ^ Pinheiro, Carlos E.G. 1996. Palatability and escaping ability in Neotropical butterflies: tests with wild kingbirds (Tyrannus melancholicus, Tyrannidae). Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 59(4): 351–365 [1]
  2. ^ Young A.M. 1971. Wing colouration and reflectance in Morpho butterflies as related to reproductive behaviour and escape from avian predators. Oecologia 7, 209–222.
  3. ^ Edmunds M. 1974. Defence in Animals: a survey of anti-predator defences. Harlow, Essex and NY: Longman. ISBN 0-582-44132-3. On p255–256 there is a discussion of 'pursuit aposematism':
    "Young suggested that the brilliant blue colours and bobbing flight of Morpho butterflies may induce pursuit... Morpho amathonte is a very fast flier... It is possible that birds that have chased several unsuccessfully may learn not to pursue butterflies of that [type]... In one area, Young found that 80% of less brilliant species of Morpho had beak marks on their wings... but none out of 31 M. amathonte.
    "If brilliant colour was a factor in courtship, then the conflicting selection pressures of sexual selection and predator selection might lead to different results in quite closely related species".
  • Le Moult (E.) & Réal (P.), 1962-1963. Les Morpho d'Amérique du Sud et Centrale, Editions du cabinet entomologique E. Le Moult, Paris.
  • Paul Smart, 1976 The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Butterfly World in Color. London, Salamander: Encyclopedie des papillons. Lausanne, Elsevier Sequoia (French language edition) ISBN 9780948427046 ISBN 0600313816 page 234 fig. 4 (Colombia)

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