Amazon Rainforest Butterflies are definitely a favorite sight for tourists in the Amazon Rainforest. Often, you can see large and colorful butterflies flying over the rivers. The most famous butterfly in the Amazon is the impressively sized Blue Morphos mentioned below. Butterflies are so popular that they are often regarded as ‘honorary vertebrates’ by some conservationists. This means they can have a higher protection than other invertebrates like other insects and spiders.
The common Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides) has a large wingspan of about 4 inches and is in the butterfly family Nymphalidae. Characteristic of this family are the non-functional legs at the front, which do help with sensing the environment. This is why they’re known as ‘brush-footed butterflies.’ The Blue Morpho caterpillars defend themselves with a defensive smell.
Glass Winged Butterflies are great species to see in the Amazon. They have a completely see-through pair of wings giving them their common name. The photgraphed species (Greta oto) has red and purple caterpillars that eat noxious plants. The toxins are then stored in the butterflies, which makes these butterflies and their caterpillars distasteful to predators. Like the Blue Morpho above, these butterflies are also included in the brush footed family, the Nymphalidae.
Another glass winged butterfly, but of another species (Haetera piera). Almost nothing is known about the caterpillar stages of this butterfly and little is known for the whole butterfly tribe this species belongs to, the Haeterini. The butterflies fly close to the ground and are widespread across South America’s lowland forests. They have a subtle coloration over their transparent wings, which are each patterned with two eye spots.
Sulfur butterflies, known as pierids as they’re in the Pieridae family, are often seen around puddles of water and include around 70 different species throughout the Neo Tropics. The butterflies aren’t just after water but important minerals like sodium. A favorite photograph for Amazon Rainforest tourists to capture, you can sometimes see butterflies drinking from the eyes of aquatic reptiles like turtles and caiman.
Kite swallowtails (in the header image) in the Eurytides genus often join sulfur butterflies as they do their puddling behavior. They too drink the water to obtain different minerals and can be distinguished from the sulfurs by their tails and black markings. It’s safer for butterflies to drink in groups as they benefit from safety in numbers. If a predator attacks these highly conspicuous animals, a single butterfly in a group is less likely to be eaten than if drinking alone.