The Glasswing Butterfly
By Rachele Baker, DVM – I am mesmerized by the unusual beauty of Glasswing butterflies. Glasswing butterflies (Greta oto) are primarily found in the rainforests of Central America including Mexico, Costa Rica, and Panama, but have been seen as far south as Columbia and Venezuela in South America.
Glasswing butterflies’ transparent wings help to camouflage them from predators. Their clear wings make it very difficult for predatory birds to track them when they are in flight. It is hard to follow the flight of the Glasswing as it flits through the patches of light and shadow formed by the rainforest understory. You will see what I mean when you watch the following video of male Glasswings engaging in “lekking.”
Male Glasswings engage in competitive displays called “lekking” to entice female Glasswings to mate with them. Click on the photo below to go to the video of male Glasswings performing dazzling flight displays to win the attention of female Glasswings on “The Magic of Life Butterfly House” website.
During lekking, male Glasswings try to attract females with sex pheromones released from small hairs along their rear wings. Glasswings ingest the nectar of flowers from the Asteraceae and Boraginaceae families such as Forget-Me-Nots. The nectar from these flowers contains substances called pyrrolizidine alkaloids that are used in the production of sex pheromones.
I captured this image of mating Glasswings from the video on “The Magic of Life Butterfly House” website.