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Butterfly of the Week – The Blue Morpho

Posted on August 20th, 2017

The Blue Morpho is definitely the fan favorite, it’s stunning 

iridescent wings are sure to catch your attention. The Blue Morpho is not only gorgeous but it has also been extremely helpful in preventing counterfeiting when it comes to the US Dollar. 

First, a brief run-down of the Morpho life cycle. The female Blue Morpho will only lay it’s eggs on roughly 23 plants within the Fabaceae or Leguminosae family which is, you guessed it, the Pea Family.

It takes between 10-12 days for the eggs to hatch. The caterpillar then feeds constantly on the legume plant leaves as a result, it grows exponentially and will go through five instars. An instar is when the caterpillar sheds it’s skin and forms a new larger skin to allow for more growing room. After about 8 weeks of eating and storing up fat, the caterpillar has enough energy stored up to form the chrysalis. The chrysalis stage can last anywhere from a week to a few months, environmental factors play a huge role and the Morpho will time its emergence to align with the rainy season. Once the butterfly has emerged, it has to hang from the chrysalis for roughly 4 hours in order to dry out it’s wings. This is a fairly dangerous event, it leaves the butterfly completely vulnerable to predators. 

In the United States, counterfeiting is a huge problem, roughly 300 million dollars of counterfeit money is in circulation every year. As a result, the Blue Morpho is rigorously being studied in the hope of recreating it’s stunning iridescence on the dollar bill. 

The blue morpho is not actually blue, it’s color comes from the structure of the scales on the wing. Each scale is has tiny holes and indents, this causes light to be refracted as the color blue. Therefore, each time the butterfly moves, the light that hits each scale changes, giving the butterfly that purpley/blue iridescent shimmer.

Nanotech Security is working diligently to recreate these structural patterns to create a technology that can be added to currency to create an iridescence that is nearly impossible to recreate. 

blue-mopho-nanotec-recreation

They succeeded in harnessing this advanced pattern technology to re-create a light-only colored photograph. The technology is now being discussed by multiple governments as to how to utilize this amazing invention and discovery. 

 

For more information check out https://voices.nationalgeographic.org/2013/06/30/the-butterfly-effect-how-blue-morpho-wings-could-stop-counterfeiting/

 

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