Glasswing Butterfly (Costa Rican)

Sherry Pundt

Tucson, United States

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Artist's Description

I captured this Glasswing Butterfly at the Tucson Botanical Gardens. I was such a beautiful sight to see all of these wonderful butterflies.

Taken with my Canon EOS Rebel XS D1000

Glasswing Butterfly (Greta oto) Spanish name: Espejitos

A migratory butterfly, Greta oto is found in virtually all habitats in Costa Rica, including disturbed ones. It is often spotted passing through open areas, and sometimes visits gardens in the Meseta Central region.

This butterfly is found in Costa Rica on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the country, from 500 to 1,600 m. This glasswing ranges from Mexico to Panama.

Physical Description
The glasswing is so named because of its gloriously transparent wings. A brown to reddish-brown border helps make Greta oto’s wings more visible. The upper part of the forewing also has a white stripe through the brown region. Glasswings lack the tiny scales on most of their wings that give other butterflies and moths their colors, so the wings are, literally, see-through. It is very hard for the eye to follow as the butterfly dodges between understory plants among patches of light and shadow.

These are hard to spot even when the caterpillars are undergoing metamorphosis: they transform into small pupae with a chrome-silver color that masks them as, perhaps, water glistening in droplets on stems. These pupae look like small mirrors, which is why they are called espejitos in Costa Rica.

Adults have scaly antennae and an elegantly thin, brown body powering the delicate, clear wings (the veins in their wings are visible). Males have an additional feature to their wings: on the hind wing is a small plume of fine hairs that stay tucked under the overlap of the forewing most of the time. These become helpful in courtship.

The host plants for Greta oto are two species of Cestrum. This glasswing (like others) also will feed on the droppings from birds that eat insects—by doing this, the glasswing gets amino acids into its diet.

The average length of a glasswing butterfly is 28 to 30 mm.

Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Nymphalidae


Artwork Comments

  • Sarah Trent
  • Sherry Pundt
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  • Sherry Pundt
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