One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A large tropical butterfly, the male of which has bright blue iridescent wings. Native to the Central and South American rainforests, large numbers are caught each year for use in the jewellery trade.
Genus Morpho, subfamily Morphinae, family Nymphalidae
- ‘Native to the American tropics, morpho butterflies are distinguished by their brilliant iridescent blue wings.’
- ‘We pass single file on a swinging bridge and I see a large morphos butterfly up the tree-shrouded stream, the turquoise circles on its fluttering wings flashing like neon.’
- ‘Its a morpho, and its wings transform from a brilliant blue in the early morning to black and white at night, when it imitates an owl.’
- ‘Butterflies, including glorious morphos, abound in the gorge.’
- ‘The blue morpho family of butterflies, from the rainforests of Central and South America, catch the light in their wings to conjure dazzling displays.’
- ‘What we've done is measure the reflectivity of some of these butterfly's wing regions, the blue morphos, and we found that a non-metallic surface on the wing reflects 85% of the incident blue light on it and that's a huge number really.’
Modern Latin, from Greek Morphō, an epithet of Aphrodite.
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