Glasswing or Tranparent Butterfly

Just had to share this butterfly with everyone. If you have seen one, you are lucky to live in the Central America and Mexico regions that have this beautiful variety.

I was inspired to look at butterflies from a visit yesterday to a real butterfly enthusiast, Michelle Serreyn, an Interpreter at Metro Beach Nature Center. Her garden is built as a habitat for wildlife and butterflies. Full of native plants for butterflies to lay eggs and eat. Other plants are meant to attract critters and other insects. She raises and releases Monarch butterflies and is fascinated by the insect world and the balance of nature. Watch for her article in the Michigan Gardener Magazine in 2011…

The Latin names for transparent winged butterflies include Greto oto, Oleria paula, Ithomia petilla and Pteronymia cotytto

Oleria paula
“Thick-rimmed Clearwing Butterfly” or “Glasswing Butterfly” (family Nymphalidae)

Oleria paula is commonly known as the Thick-rimmed Clearwing Butterfly or the Glasswing Butterfly. It is in the order Lepidoptera, family Nymphalidae. The species is identified by a thick band of dark brown around the outside of the wings, a strong white medial bar on the tip of the wing, and the clear areas in the middle of the wings. This insect is fairly common and ranges from Mexico to Panama. The Glasswing butterfly has a wingspan of 56-58mm. The larvae eat the leaves of plants which include deadly nightshades, oleanders, and dogbane. From these poisonous food plants, the Glasswing larvae collect toxic alkaloids, which make them unpleasant for predators to eat.

The Glasswing butterflies have evolved large clear patches on their wings which help camouflage them while they are flying from one flower to another or while they are perched on a plant. Predators that are looking for lunch may not recognize the Glasswing as a butterfly because their transparent wings break up their outline. Glasswing butterflies feed on nectar from aster flowers. This particular flower is important to their reproduction because male Glasswings obtain a chemical from these flowers that they use in producing their pheromones, chemical scents they use to attract mates.

Drawing and information from: 

Casie Smith
Insect Biology & Diversity (ENT 301 / BIOSC 301)
Fall 2005

Now…go out and look at some fabulous butterflies today!!! (and do not spray those awful chemicals that kill these beautiful creatures…!)

Sandie Parrott

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2 Responses to Glasswing or Tranparent Butterfly

  1. TC Conner says:

    One word: Beautiful!!

  2. Wonderful, aren’t they? I “did” an interview and photos for a Michigan Gardener Magazine article yesterday for next year. I was inspired by her native landscape and the wonderful Monarch’s and other butterflies happily flittering about.

    I love butterflies and just don’t understand how anyone can spray chemicals on their garden without realizing the good insects (butterflies) are killed with the “bad” ones. I don’t use chemicals on my garden…except some fertilizer.

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