One look at its magnificent wings, and you will be left spellbound for hours. It is one of nature’s most intriguing species, and over the years the interest in its beauty has only risen. The reason why it is one of the most talked about butterfly species in the world is because it has transparent wings. Here are some facts about the glasswinged butterfly.
Did You Know?
The Spanish name for a glasswinged butterfly is ‘Espejitos’, which means ‘little mirrors’.
I understand that it is hard to believe, but the beautiful butterfly on the right is as real as you and me, and its amazing wings that you are seeing are also real. They aren’t morphed or photoshopped.
The glasswinged butterfly or Greta oto belongs to the Nymphalidae (brush-footed) family, the largest family of butterflies with over 6000 species.
It is a migratory butterfly by nature, and can be found in Central America. Adult butterflies can be spotted from Mexico through Panama, and have been seen in Venezuela in the mountain area located around the City of Caracas. They have also been spotted in Florida.
Interesting Glasswinged Butterfly Facts
- The average length of a glasswinged butterfly is around 28 to 33 mm, with a wingspan of almost 5.6 to 6.1 cm (2.2 to 2.4 inches).
- The veins in the wings of the glasswinged butterfly are translucent, and look like glass. They usually have an outline of black or orange, although the colors may vary. This transparency allows the glasswinged to blend in its environment, and go unnoticed, especially while feeding.
- As with most butterflies, the glasswinged also looks extremely delicate, but has the ability to carry nearly 40 times its own weight. It is extremely fast, and can fly almost eight miles per hour for short intervals.
- Unlike its other cousins, who display their dark-colored scales to ward off predators, the glasswinged butterfly protects itself by using its translucency to hide itself. In most instances, it can be recognized only through the colored borders. Were it not for them, spotting these amazing butterflies would have been a tedious task.
- Adult glasswinged butterflies have been known to portray interesting behavior like undertaking long migrations and lekking (gathering of males during the mating season to attract females by competitive displays).
- Although glasswinged butterflies visit various types of flowers to fulfill their nutritional requirement, females usually lay their eggs only on the toxic plants of Cestrum family. The larvae feed on these plants, and hence become toxic to predators, through the secondary chemicals stored in their tissues. Adults feed on the droppings of insect-eating birds to fulfill their protein requirement.
- Adults also feed on the flowers of the same toxic plants, whose nectar contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids. These toxic compounds are then converted into pheromones and are used to attract females.
- In addition to the exceptional camouflage of the adults, the larva of the glasswinged butterflies also possesses unique properties. They are extremely reflective, and on observing closely you can almost see your mirror image. This is as good as being invisible in the wild.
The butterflies are not scarce as it is extremely difficult for humans as well as predators to spot them. The only way you can ever see a glasswinged butterfly is by going to a butterfly farm or exhibition, or in the wilderness of Central America.