New Latin, from Greek Morphō, epithet of Aphrodite
First Known Use: 1853
Morpho butterfly (Morpho nestira).—Appel Color Photography
Any species of New World tropical brush-footed butterflies in the genus Morpho (family Nymphalidae). Microscopic ridges on the wing scales break up and reflect light, producing the iridescent blue of the males of some species. The generally duller-coloured females have broader, less graceful wings. The hairy larvae feed on plants and live and pupate in a communal web. Some species have poisonous hairs that can cause a rash on human skin. Morphos are raised commercially in South America for use in jewelry, lamp shades, pictures, and tray inlays.