Whether you’re visiting a tropical country or a local butterfly conservatory, a blue morpho butterfly is always a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. But while many use the term “blue morpho” as though it refers to a single species, the truth about this cerulean showstopper is slightly more complicated.

Blue Morpho butterfly taken by Kyle Horner

There are over 30 species in the genus Morpho, many (but not all) of which are blue. Even the Common Blue Morpho – pictured here – is made up of many subspecies, some of which may actually constitute entire species of their own. Determining which morpho you are looking at can be a daunting task indeed!
Morpho collection photo credit Anaxibia
Morpho collection © Anaxibia

Whatever the species, the morphos all share a similar lifestyle. These big beauties live for only two or three weeks as adults, and you won’t see one sipping nectar at a flower. Instead they suck the juices out of fermenting fruits, animal carcasses, tree sap, and even mud. These unusual food sources provide the fuel they need to find a mate and lay eggs, their only objective in a short but spectacular life. We can see various blue morphos in the wild on tour as we travel from Mexico, through Central America, and into the damper parts of South America.