Glasswinged butterflies


Glasswinged butterflies are named after their beautiful, transparent wings. It’s a rare feature among the family of butterflies. As you can imagine, rather than reflecting lights, the wings of these butterflies let the light to pass through. This exotic butterfly lives in gardens and warm or humid forests of Central America.

The glass-winged butterfly (Greta oto) has wings that are transparent. The tissue between their veins looks like glass, as it lacks the colored scales found in other butterflies. These clear wings make it extremely difficult for predatory birds to track it in flight. Although most abundant in Mexico, Panama, and Colombia, glass wings migrate great distances and can be found as far north as Florida. They feed on common plants like Lantana, a shrub with aromatic flowers, and lay their eggs on plants of the nightshade family, which contain alkaloid compounds toxic to humans. Both adults and caterpillars are able to store alkaloid compounds in their body fluids. These compounds are nauseating to birds, making them unattractive prey. Males can convert the alkaloids into pheromones that are used to attract females. Groups of males flutter around spreading pheromones in order to help them to pair with a female, a behavior called lekking.

The wingspan of glass-winged butterflies can reach 5.5 to 6 cm. The transparent wings make these butterflies very difficult to spot. That’s exactly how they hide away from predators like birds. The borders of their wings have a dark brown color. That’s what helps us to see this incredibly beautiful insect.

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