The beauty of a butterfly can never truly be explained. The way a butterfly breaks out of the cocoon and dry their gentle wings before preparing their life of flight for the first time, what a magnificent sight to witness.
There are thousands of different species of butterfly all over the world there are different colors and kinds each that are indigent to their own lands. No butterfly is quite as mystical as the translucent butterflies. Translucent wings, wings without color, or clear see through wings are actually more common then we realize. The Spanish call them “espejitos” which translates to “little mirrors”
The translucent butterfly also known as the glass winged butterfly can be found in Africa, Australia, and even South America. They are slightly different species but carry very similar characteristics. The majority of glass winged butterflies do have some color around the edge of its wings sometimes more than one color, most commonly found are brown color with red or orange tint with a possible spot or two of white, yet the majority of the wings are clear or translucent. Their bodies are dark as well so the translucent stands out against its own body. The butterfly belongs to a family or group also known as a clade when classifying animals and species. The clade or group the glass wing butterfly belongs to is the clearwing clade.
The wings of this gentle creature spans on average around 5.5 CM, with the majority of that entire wingspan being transparent. Scientists are truly baffled by this transparency. There are simple rules of logic they can use to try to explain the transparency; however there is no reason why these butterflies should follow these rules of logic. For example something is transparent; because it cannot absorb nor scatter light if there is any sustenance to your body at all it would be quite difficult to meet either of these criteria. Therefore the wings on this insect must have some refractive content consistently through them. The butterflies simply lack the colored. There is an idea that there are tiny, submicroscopic, protrusions all over the wings that allows the wings to be transparent. The original scientists who questioned these protrusions assumed this would make their wings less sturdy or more fragile.
Those that been breed in captivity have not shown any signs of fragile wings or weakened in anyway. Another unique quality of the Glass winged butterfly is their place of preference to lay their eggs. These butterflies thrive in the rainforest setting and choose to lay their eggs on the Cestrum plant or more commonly known as the Nightshade, a highly poisonous plant. There are some scientists who say they lay their eggs wherever the butterflies are gathered or can be found but most signs still point to the Nightshade. The caterpillars feed on these plants, thus making their bodies striped with bright red and purple, thus warning predators that they are poisonous and not a great snack choice. The alkaloids stay in the insect’s body through adulthood so the insect constantly has a natural defense from predators. Young caterpillars all the way to a mature butterfly are considered toxic due to the plants it feed on and the alkaloids in its body from the very beginning.
The alkaloids come in handy during mating season. A large group of males get together and show off their amazing features and characteristics. They turn the alkaloid into pheromones to attract the females. While the males are showing off to the best of their abilities, the female can choose the most dominant and visually attractive mate.
Glass winged butterflies have also been known to migrate great distances even though long migration is not a typical butterfly attribute.
The glass winged butterfly as previously stated thrives in the rain forest therefore it feed off of different rain forest flowers. These butter flies are not scarce by any means but the chances of seeing one face to face will only be possible if you go to them. Either by going to a butterfly farm or butterfly house that breeds this type of butterfly along with many others or take a vacation to a rainforest. South America or even Mexico will provide you the opportunity to encounter a glass winged butterfly.
Whether you ever get the opportunity to be near a glass winged butterfly in Panama or just get to enjoy their beauty through photos just knowing they exist is great knowledge and an experience all its own.