Owl Butterfly

Beautiful South American Owl Butterfly, this was captured at Colchester Zoo and not in it’s natural habitat unfortunately. The butterflies are massive in size and very elegant.

An owl butterfly is a butterfly, in the genus Caligo, known for their huge eyespots, which resemble owls’ eyes. They are found in the rainforests and secondary forests of Mexico, Central, and South America.

Owl butterflies are very large, 65–200 mm (2.6–7.9 in), and fly only a few meters at a time, so avian predators have little difficulty in following them to their settling place. However, the butterflies preferentially fly in dusk, when few avian predators are around. The Latin name may possibly refer to their active periods. Caligo means darkness.

Some owl butterflies form leks in mating behavior – Wikipedia

The underwing pattern is highly cryptic. It is conceivable that the eye pattern is a generalized form of mimicry. It is known that many small animals hesitate to go near patterns resembling eyes with a light-colored iris and a large pupil, which matches the appearance of the eyes of many predators that hunt by sight. The main predators of Caligo are apparently small lizards such as Anolis – Wikipedia