Over 80 species of butterflies occurring in rainforest habitats from Mexico to South America belong to the genus Morpho. Not only are they some of the largest butterflies in the world, with wingspans reaching eight inches, but they are some of the most beautiful, coming in a variety of colors such as blue, green, orange, and white. The majority of the species come in various shades of blue and are known as blue Morphos. The adult butterflies feed mainly on the juices of fermenting fruit and tree sap while their larvae or caterpillars feed on toxic leguminous plants. Some caterpillars are cannibalistic. Morpho butterflies have few predators because of poisonous compounds stored in their bodies from their diet as caterpillars, but some birds such as jacamars and flycatchers are able to eat them in spite of their toxicity. Though mainly forest and canopy dwellers, the Morphos will come out into clearings to warm themselves in the sunlight. Males are very territorial and will chase off other males that enter their territories. Their eyes are believed to be highly sensitive to UV light to enable them to see each other at great distances. Some species are colonial, living in groups.
Blue Morphos are famous for the brilliant, iridescent colors on their upper wings which are not the result of pigments but of the structural array of scales on their wings. Females are less vivid than the males who use their bright color to intimidate rival males that fly into their territories. The wings also have a wide angle of reflectability which maximizes their visibility as they fly about in the rainforest. Their under wings are brown with ocelli or eyespots which help camouflage them when their wings are closed. Blue Morphos use a “flashing” defense mechanism. Due to the slow beating pace of their wings, the iridescent upper wing color is flashed, then disappears as the wings are raised, revealing the brown undersides, only to flash again as the wings come down again a few moments later. This flashing causes predators to lose track of them in flight as the brown-patterned under wings blend them in with their forest habitat.
“If the youth could only see how much good it is in their power to accomplish, if they would make God their strength and wisdom, they would no longer pursue a course of careless indifference toward Him; they would no longer be swayed by the influence of those who are unconsecrated. Instead of feeling that an individual responsibility rests upon them to put forth efforts to do others good, and lead others to righteousness, they give themselves up to seek their own amusement. They are useless members of society, and live as aimless lives as do the butterflies. The young may have a knowledge of the truth, and believe it, but not live it. Such possess a dead faith. Their hearts are not reached so as to affect their conduct and character in the sight of God, and they are no nearer doing His will than are unbelievers. Their hearts do not conform to the will of God; they are at enmity with Him. Those who are devoted to amusements, and who love the society of pleasure seekers, have an aversion to religious exercises. Will the Master say to these youth who profess His name, Well done, good and faithful servants, unless they are good and faithful?” Testimonies, vol. 2, 235.
“We are not here to be butterflies and to gratify self, but we are here to be lights to a crooked and perverse nation. We are to be loyal to God and heaven.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 9, 257.