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The Malachite Butterfly - Interesting Facts
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
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
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?
© 2010 Paula