When we were researching interesting species to find in the Amazon Rainforest, Jess learned about the Blue Morpho Dragonfly. This thing IMMEDIATELY went on our Top 5 List. Most people know or have seen pictures of Blue Morpho butterflies, as they are some of the most beautiful and visible ambassadors of New World tropical forests. But we had NO IDEA that there was a dragonfly that shared those famous iridescent blue wings. The article Jess found also had some really interesting information about how the wings of this insect may be made of living tissue. For the most part, insect wings are dead (like our hair or fingernails once grown out of the cuticle or follicle) but scientists recently found what looks like a tiny respiratory system on the wings of blue amorphous dragonflies by using an electron microscope.
The underside of the wings are dark, but the tops are an incredible metallic blue. Male dragonflies are extremely territorial and often participate in elaborate flight-fight displays. The can even get aggressive with each other and bite, maim and kill in an effort to defend good breeding spots. The blue wings of these species shine and shimmer in the sun and the brighter the blue, the better the chance of winning the battle. To read more about these living wings check out this article.
Whether it’s a dragonfly or butterfly morpho, the iridescence is structural and not created by pigment. The nanostructure refracts and reflects light to create those beautiful blue shades. Footage of me catching this bad boy is coming soon!
**These pictures are screenshots of video taken by the Celestron MicroDirect HD. We went to the Peruvian Amazon in July to train teachers with the Amazon Workshops Educator Academy in July. Celestron sponsored part of our trip and we brought digital microscopes down to capture the amazing diversity of the rainforest. We will be highlighting images and videos from our trip over the next few months.**