Spend a moment in our Butterfly Rainforest with Ryan talking about the Owl butterfly, Caligo memnon, a cousin of the popular Blue morpho. Also known as Giant owl or the Pale owl, this species of butterfly is native to Central and South America.

Here in the exhibit you’ll see their notable large ‘eye’ spots as they relax on foliage in the lush landscape.

Transcript

Hello! Welcome back to the Butterfly Rainforest at the Florida Museum of Natural History. My name is Ryan and today we’re going to do the cousin to the Blue Morpho, the Owl butterfly. It is, here it is, from Central and South America just as its cousin is and it’s a Caligo memnon, although that name is a bit under dispute so you might find different things if you look up that name.

You see it gets its name for the singular large spot on its wing here that we refer to as an eye spot because it’s thought that it looks very much like an eye. This does a couple of things. It can scare away a predator by thinking that the butterfly is something larger than it, but it might might also cause predators to attack that eye spot because predators like to bite the head when they’re attacking their prey. And what’s always on the head? The eyes. So that gives the butterfly the chance to just fly away with part of its wing missing and butterflies can lose up to half of their wings and still fly, depending on the parts of the wings they lose.

And we’ll give you a quick look at both sides the wings so you can see that lovely owl face there. And see the inside of the wing here is not nearly as flashy as its Blue Morpho cousin. Now off he goes!

A quick note that the Owl butterfly typically does not fly during the day. They’re crepuscular which means they fly at dusk and dawn.

I hope you’ve learned something interesting about that butterfly. I hope you have a great rest of the day! Stay healthy. Take care.


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