Photograph by Benjamin Nocke
Greta oto, the glasswing butterfly is seen here perched on the leaf of a fern in Costa Rica. The glasswing, a type of brush-footed butterfly, is famous for its transparent wings. Its habitat ranges from Mexico south to Panama.
The clear patches on the wings in between the veins help to camouflage the glasswing butterfly while in flight or while perched on leaves and bark. The transparent wings help the butterfly to blend in with its surroundings and breaks up the shape of the wings which may confuse potential predators.
While migrating, the glasswing butterfly can fly as many as 12km in a single day. The adult glasswing feeds on the nectar of Asteraceae and Boraginaceae flowers which contain chemicals that the glasswing absorbs making it toxic and unappetizing to predators. Additionally, the same toxic alkaloids are also used by the male glasswing to produce pheromones which it uses to attract a mate.