Butterflies – Owl – Caligo memnon
Photographed at Butterfly World in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2011
The Owl Butterfly is a large butterfly (10 – 15 cm) that is commonly on display in butterfly exhibits. The adults feed on fruit juices so are easy to entice to come to an outstretched hand if that hand happens to be holding a piece of orange or a nice bit of over-ripe banana. In their normal range of the Amazon rainforest north into Mexico, the caterpillar stage of this large butterfly can become a pest in banana plantations where they happily munch on banana plants. The large “eye” on the wing of the Owl Butterfly can’t see anything but serves as a defense mechanism in that any attacker may be fooled into striking at the eye on the wing and miss the butterfly’s body. The other thought is that the eye is a mimic mechanism expected to fool possible predators into thinking that the butterfly is a real owl rather than a potential meal.