The Malachite Butterfly - Interesting Facts

Siproeta Stelenes

Another view of the malachite butterfly
Another view of the malachite butterfly | Source

The beautiful Malachite Butterfly

The first time I saw a Malachite butterfly, or Metamorpha Stelenes, it was in a butterfly conservatory. The upper wings boast a beautiful green color offset by blacks and browns. The underside of the wings are more subdued and yellow of a green color but equally beautiful. The outline colors are more of a brown color on the underside as well. Butterflies like these have the built in recognition for one another on the inside/upper wings, but to keep a little more safe from predators, have the subdued colors as needed.

In my experience, I have seen this play out, where a butterfly seems to sense that danger is near and responds accordingly. Granted, in a butterfly house or conservatory they are much more brave, as there really are no predators to have to worry about. Still, if you zoom in with a camera and a flash, that butterfly will likely fly away, or at the very least close its wings. I was just excited to get any pictures at all, and over time my collection has grown, along with my love for moths and butterflies.

The Malachite Butterfly

This is the  more subdued coloring on the underside of the Malachite.
This is the more subdued coloring on the underside of the Malachite. | Source

Basic infomation on the Malachite

Another name for the Malachite butterfly is Pearly Malachite. It is from the Family Nymphalidae. The wingspan is approximately 2 1/2 to 4 inches across, or about 10 centimeters. It is the females that are larger but have paler wings. 

They love to eat flower nectar, rotting fruit (and also bird droppings or carrion). You can find them in orchards or even in more domesticated gardens.

Their range of flight is from Central to South America, and some have been seen in the Southern United States (like Florida and Texas). They have also been seen in Jamaica and Cuba. Males have been seen perching near the forest openings and appear to be waiting for females. If they are not doing this, they are doing a slow type of flight that has a floating effect. The do this while waiting for female malachites to come around. You can sometimes find adult malachites "roosting" in small groups under leaves. I think it would be great to see them doing this in their natural setting in a forest somewhere.   They enjoy subtropical forests, lower mountain slopes, and plantations.  They love an orchard where they could find fallen fruit.

This butterfly is named after a beautiful green mineral, malachite. It contains copper compounds which makes it a beautiful color.


Where some of the Malachites live

show route and directions
A markerCosta Rica -
Costa Rica
[get directions]

B markerCentral America -
Central America
[get directions]

Malachites and their young

Malachites lay eggs about two to three times a year.  They lay their eggs singly, which helps with the survival rate.  If all larvae hatched out at the same place they could be a great meal for some lucky predator.  The larvae themselves, are a dark green color, and have distinct "horns" on them.  Some call the color a velvety dark green. 

In another description, the caterpillars are said to be more of a black color with red spines. 

Malachite Butterfly Poll

Have you ever seen a Malachite Butterfly before, in its native habitat or some other conservatory?

See results without voting

© 2010 Paula

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Comments 10 comments

Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 6 years ago from Maui and Arizona

Very interesting life these little beauties have. Great hub. Neat that you put the map in for us.


rpalulis profile image

rpalulis 6 years ago from NY

This is very interesting, I had never known this information on the Malachite Butterfly. Very nice photos.


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA Author

Thank you Pamela!


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA Author

Rpalulis, thank you! Butterflies are one of my favorite things to photograph.


DavePrice profile image

DavePrice 6 years ago from Sugar Grove, Ill

This is some of my favorite beauty on earth, thanks so much for the information and the pics


FloBe profile image

FloBe 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Butterflies are so beautiful...I also have some great photos that I've taken in a butterfly conservatory on Vancouver Island. I found the whole experience a delight and if you sat still many of them would come and land on a shoulder for a while. Loved your photography.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

This butterfly is beautiful Your pictures are excellent and I enjoyed reading this hub.


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA Author

Dave, they are some of my favorite beauty on the earth as well, that is a great way of putting it. Thank you for your comment!


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA Author

FloBe, I think its wonderful you have been to the conservatory in Vancouver, I would love to go there. How neat, that they came and landed on your shoulder. Thank you for the comment! :)


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA Author

Thank you Pamela! I really appreciate that.

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