100 Years – 100 Objects: Morpho cypris

The Houston Museum of Natural Science was founded in 1909 – meaning that the curators of the Houston Museum of Natural Science have been collecting and preserving natural and cultural treasures for a hundred years now. For this yearlong series, our current curators have chosen one hundred exceptional objects from the Museum’s immense storehouse of specimens and artifacts—one for each year of our history. Check back here frequently to learn more about this diverse selection of behind-the-scenes curiosities—we will post the image and description of a new object every few days.

This description is from Nancy, the museum’s director of the Cockrell Butterfly Center and curator of entomology. She’s chosen a selection of objects that represent the rarest and most interesting insects in the Museum’s collections,that we’ll be sharing here – and at 100.hmns.org- throughout the year.

Cypris Blue Morpho-4x6

Although not considered endangered, this Morpho species is relatively rare in collections. As it flies along river beds in its native rainforest habitat and sunlight hits its wings, the ethereal, iridescent blue of the male blazes like a flashing mirror. The females, much less commonly seen, occur in two color forms: one reflective blue, the other muted yellow, tan and brown. The caterpillars are covered with yellow and red hairs, and eat the leaves of trees in the legume family. Morpho cypris is found from Nicaragua to Ecuador.

Learn more about butterflies and their relatives in a visit to the new Brown Hall of Entomology, a part of the Cockrell Butterfly Center– a living, walk-through rainforest at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

You can see more images of this fascinating artifact – as well as the others we’ve posted so far this year – in the 100 Objects section at 100.hmns.org