Ulster Museum

Morpho butterflies

You can see the Morpho butterflies on the ground floor of the 'Window on Our World' gallery. You can also see some more in 'Discover Nature'.

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There are around 80 species of the butterfly genus Morpho. They are found only in the ‘Neotropical Region’, which includes South America with Mexico and Central America.

Many Morpho butterflies are metallic shades of blue or green. The exact colour will change depending on the angle from which you are looking. For example, in Morpho cypris, the colour from the front is a very bright blue but when seen from an angle this colour changes very quickly to black.

Morphos once graced the insect cabinet of the Austro-Hungarian Empress Marie Thérèse (1717-1780). She took her studies seriously and employed French, German, Dutch and Italian naturalists to study her natural history collections and make Vienna a leading centre of European science.