Morpho menelaus

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Menelaus Blue Morpho
Morpho menelaus huebneri MHNT Male Dos.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Nymphalidae
Genus: Morpho
Species: M. menelaus
Binomial name
Morpho menelaus
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The Menelaus Blue Morpho (Morpho menelaus) is an iridescent tropical butterfly of Central and South America. It has a wing span of 15 cm (5.9 in). The adult drinks juice from rotten fruit with its long proboscis, which is like a sucking tube. The adult males have brighter colours than the females.

Morpho menelaus is a very large butterfly, with a wingspan of approximately 138 mm.The forewing is concave at the outer edge. The upperside of wings are metallic blue.The underside is brown with a line of large ocelli at the base of the postdiscal area.


Morpho butterflies are Neotropical butterflies found mostly in Central America as well as Mexico and South America including Brazil, Costa Rica and Venezuela.

Two views (dorsal and ventral) of the same specimen


The subspecies are:

  • Morpho menelaus menelaus Venezuela, Brazil, Surinam, Guyana The male is blue, but with extremely intense reflections. The female has only quite small white discal patches and the white spots on the discocellular are less developed than in the other races.
  • Morpho menelaus alexandrovna Druce, 1874 Peru Male greeish blue with light spot before the apex, below which are placed three faint blue-white patches. Under surface dark chocolate-brown with grey scales near the distal border. Ocelli three times as large as in menelaus.
  • Morpho menelaus amathonte (Deyrolle, 1860) Panama, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador
  • Morpho menelaus argentiferus Fruhstorfer, 1913 Peru
  • Morpho menelaus assarpai Röber, 1903 Peru
  • Morpho menelaus coeruleus (Perry, 1810) Brazil
  • Morpho menelaus didius Hopffer, 1874 Peru
  • Morpho menelaus eberti Weber, 1963 Brazil.
  • Morpho menelaus godartii Guérin-Méneville, [1844] Bolivia, Peru
  • Morpho (Grasseia) menelaus huebneri (Fischer, 1962; (preocc. Le Moult, 1933))
  • Morpho menelaus julanthiscus Fruhstorfer, 1907 Colombia, Ecuador
  • Morpho menelaus kesselringi Fischer, 1962 Brazil.
  • Morpho (Grasseia) menelaus melacheilus (Staudinger, 1886)
  • Morpho (Grasseia) menelaus occidentalis (Felder & Felder, 1862) Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil.
  • Morpho menelaus orinocensis Le Moult, 1925 Venezuela
  • Morpho menelaus terrestris Butler, 1866 Brazil
  • Morpho menelaus verae Weber, 1951 Brazil
  • Morpho menelaus zischkai Fischer, 1962 Bolivia


The nocturnal larvae are red-brown in colour with bright patches of lime-green or yellow. They are known to feed on Erythroxylum pulchrum and Machaerium, and are also highly cannibalistic. The Morpho butterfly drinks its food rather than eat it. It uses its proboscis (long, protruding mouth part) to drink sap and fruit juices. Morpho butterflies taste with sensors on their legs and taste-smell the air with their antennae. They butterflies feed on the juices of fermenting fruit with which they may also be lured. The inebriated butterflies wobble in flight and are easy to catch. Morphos will also feed on the bodily fluids of dead animals and on fungi. Therefore, Morpho butterflies may be important in dispersing fungal spores. The adults dwell in the forest canopy layer and rarely come near the understorey and forest floor layers; however, they have sometimes been observed flying near the ground in clearings.

Upper-side (female)

Similar species[edit]

It is similar in range and colouration to the Peleides Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides).


Morpho menelaus was named in 1758 by Carl Linnaeus (as Papilio menelaus) to honour the Greek mythological figure Menelaus, a king of Ancient Sparta.

In popular culture[edit]

The blue morpho was featured in the 2004 Canadian-British film The Blue Butterfly, starring William Hurt, as well as an episode of Go, Diego, Go!.

The blue morpho is also a pivotal symbol in the 2010 videogame BioShock 2, where it represents the revolutionary movement known as the "Rapture Family" and intended "rebirth" of the city. Character Gideon Wyborn explains the choice by noting that its caterpillar "doesn't spin a cocoon... it just grows armor on the inside... before the change. It is us." Paper blue morpho broaches are initially worn to secretly identify members of "the family" to each other, and it eventually becomes a form of religious image associated with the messianic Eleanor Lamb. It was also seen at the end of the game's teaser trailer.[1]

The blue morpho is also important in the computer game The Amazon Trail. To win, you must take a picture of the blue morpho to please the Inca King.

The blue morpho plays a somewhat important role in the video game Life is Strange, where the butterfly supposedly symbolises the butterfly effect, which is the idea of an action having drastic consequences in the future.

The villain known as the Monarch (The Venture Bros.) undergoes a transformation in season 6 to become the Blue Morpho, who was originally a vigilante hero from the days of the original Rusty Venture show.


  1. ^
  • Smart, Paul (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 235, fig. 11 as nestira Hubner (synonym of ssp. coeruleus (Perry, 1810) (Brazil) and page 236 fig. 3 ssp. terrestris Butler, female (Brazil), fig. 4 ssp. guyanensis Le Moult (Guyana).

External links[edit]