Morpho peleides: Tropical species in Indiana???

Beautiful Blue Butterfly
October 7, 2009
Hello Bugman,
Today I was rummaging about my garden shed when this gorgeous specimen decided to join me. He landed on the window sill that is too far above my head for me to get a shot of the full spread wings. I was just wondering if you knew what sort of species this was, as I have not seen a photo on your site. It’s wingspan was approximately five or six inches. I tried to get closer, but then it flew away.
It is very rare that I see these brilliant blue butterflies in my area. It’s a real treat on a cloudy day.
Northwest Indiana

Morpho peliades: In Indiana???
Morpho peleides: In Indiana???

Dear Bella,
This is a tropical butterfly from Mexico (and Costa Rica and south to the rain forests of South America) in the genus Morpho, probably Morpho peleides, a common denizen of butterfly pavilions that have become so popular in zoos, botanical gardens and museums in recent years.  There is a photo of Morpho peleides posted to the Butterfly House of Missouri Botanical Gardens websiteWikipedia also has a page on the species.  We can only theorize on how this tropical species came to alight in your garden shed.  Perhaps it is a fugitive from a Butterfly Pavilion.  Perhaps you have a secret admirer who purchased a butterfly pupa and left it in your shed so that you would be transfixed by this wondrous display of romantic interest.  Perhaps you (or we) are the victim of a hoax.  This butterfly looks like it might be dead.  We wonder if perhaps you were mistaken when you saw it land on the window sill and then fly away.

Wow, Mexico? Perhaps I am thinking of another blue butterfly I’ve seen around my parts before.
However, I assure you he was alive. I’d like to think he escaped from butterfly jail and he is now en route to be reunited with his loved ones.
Though that romantic gesture sure would be nice.
Thanks for the info!

If you have seen other large blue butterflies, we would think the Pipevine Swallowtail, Female Diana Fritillary, and Red Spotted Purple to be the most likely candidates, though none are as iridescent as the Morpho.  The Great Purple Hairstreak, though iridescent, is much smaller.

Update from Eric Eaton
I’m much more curious as to why Morpho butterflies are turning up in Bella’s shed in Indiana!