Glasswing Butterfly

The Glasswing Butterfly (Greta oto) is an insect in the Danainae sub-family of brush-footed butterflies.

The Glasswing Butterfly has transparent wings that enable it to camouflage without the use of colour – which is very rare among butterflies. Its wings have dark-brown borders tinted with red or orange. Its body is dark-brown.

Glasswing Butterfly

Glasswing Butterfly


It measures about 3 centimetres (1 inch) long, with a wingspan of about 6 centimetres (2.5 inches).

The Glasswing Butterfly is native to Central America and South America, from Texas in the north to Chile in the south. It prefers tropical rainforests.

Caterpillars eat leaves and adult butterflies feed on the nectar of flowers. Its predators include birds.

It is known for its long migration for a butterfly, which is up to 19 kilometres (12 miles). It migrates to change elevations when it gets too cold, from high elevations to the lowlands.

To attract females, males gather in large group in the rainforest shade to compete for mates, by displaying their wings. This is called lekking. During lekking, males also release a scent, called pheromones to attract females.

Females lay eggs on plant leaves. The eggs hatch into caterpillars (larvae) which feed on the leaves. The caterpillars are green with purple and red stripes. Caterpillars pupate – they make a chrysalis, which is a casing. Inside the casing, the caterpillar undergoes metamorphosis (changes), and it emerges as an adult butterfly.

Glasswing Butterfly

Glasswing Butterfly


Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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