Free Shipping

Announcement: 2 Free Little Books with a Discount (Offer of the Day)

Multicolored butterfly: the most beautiful species

papillon multicolore

Butterflies are insects known for their beauty and diversity. In the world, there are between 150,000 and 180,000 species of Lepidoptera, divided into 136 families and 43 superfamilies. Among all these species are some fascinating creatures with multi-colored wings. Some butterflies even carry the full color spectrum!

We have selected some of these incredible creatures that dazzle us with their rainbow colors for some, and a combination of at least three to four colors for others.

This is obviously a non-exhaustive list. Don't hesitate to make suggestions in the comments for species that we could add to this article! But before that, let's take a look at the origin of butterfly colors.

Where do the colors of butterflies come from?

Butterfly wings are made of two protein membranes covered with thousands of scales and tiny hairs. These scales are overlapping pieces of chitin which is a protein, and are microscopic plate-like hairs. The colors and patterns of butterfly wings come from these layers of tiny scales. The scales and their coloring have many functions.

Butterflies with bright colors and patterns signal to predators that they are repulsive. There are also very brightly colored butterflies that imitate a distasteful species in the hope of deterring their predators.

The scales form patterns that give the butterflies camouflage that helps them hide from predators by blending in easily with the environment. Common forms of butterfly camouflage are wing patterns that resemble leaves or the bark of a tree. Often the scales on the top of a butterfly's wings are brightly colored, while the scales on the underside are conversely dull and therefore intended for camouflage while the butterfly rests.

Butterflies get their colors from pigments and structures. Ordinary color comes from chemical pigments that absorb certain wavelengths of light and reflect others. For example, a butterfly that appears green absorbs red and blue wavelengths of light and reflects green, which is what you see when light reflects back to the eye. Butterflies that are brown or yellow get their different shades from melanin, the same pigment that colors human skin.

The metallic-looking color of butterflies comes from the specific structure of their wings and explains why some of their colors appear to shift, change and appear intense. This quality of colors changing as the observer moves is known as iridescence. It occurs when light passes through a transparent, multi-layered surface and is reflected more than once. The multiple reflections combine with each other and intensify the colors.

Butterflies use colors and patterns to attract and deceive. Some butterflies look for certain colors or patterns to mate with. Several species of butterflies and moths have eyespots on their wings. This helps fool predators into thinking the butterfly is actually a larger animal, like an owl.

The wings often have ultraviolet patterns that can be seen by other butterflies. These patterns are invisible to us, but are used by butterflies to find and distinguish their partners.

Now that you know where Lepidoptera colors come from, let's start by discovering these fabulous multicolored butterflies.

Alcides metaurus

multicolored butterfly - Alcides metaurus

Alcides metaurus is a moth of the family Uraniidae. It resides in tropical north Queensland, Australia.

Its wing span is approximately 100 mm. This butterfly is black with blue-green iridescence around their body. Its sublime iridescent bands range from yellow to pink to orange. The underside is pale iridescent green with black bands. We can consider this incredible species as a rainbow butterfly.

It is in flight during the day and feeds on flower nectar. They rest with their wings open and flat.

Bebearia tentyris

multicolored butterfly - Bebearia tentyris

Bebearia tentyris is a butterfly of the Nymphalidae family which is distributed from Ivory Coast to Cameroon and Congo. This species is found in drier rainforests and is quite tolerant of habitat degradation. It is found at altitudes between sea level and around 800 meters.

Males of several Bebearia species have a fritillary-like pattern consisting of dark spots on a brownish or orange background. Several species have an overall metallic blue sheen. In tentyris, the disc cell and costal areas of the forewings show blue iridescence, but other areas of the wings reflect a dull coppery or reddish hue. Iridescence is only apparent when this magnificent butterfly is basking in direct sunlight.

Marpesia marcella

multicolored butterfly - Marpesia marcella

Marpesia marcella is a butterfly of the nymphalidae family. It is present from Mexico to Peru. Although it is found at all altitudes from 500 to 2800 meters, it is primarily a cloud forest species, and is most abundant at altitudes between 1000 and 2000 meters.

This lepidopteran has a large tail at the end of each hind wing. The upper part is crossed by a wide orange band with, on the forewings, a brown apex and a striped brown basal part. The hindwings share similar colors with a large area colored a sublime iridescent purple.

Males of Marpesia marcella can easily be confused with those of corita and corinna, both of which have very similar upperwings, although the orange bands are narrower in corinna.

Chrysiridia rhipheus

multicolored butterfly - Chrysiridia rhipheus

Chrysiridia rhipheus, also called Madagascar Urania or Urania rhipheus, is a species of butterfly in the family Uraniidae. It is considered one of the most impressively colored lepidoptera. It is famous throughout the world and is highly sought after by collectors. It is very colorful, although the iridescent parts of the wings do not contain pigment; rather, the colors come from optical interference.

It is found throughout the year in most areas of the island, with population peaks between March and August, and lowest numbers between October and December.

Like many other butterflies in the Uraniidae family, this rainbow butterfly resembles hairstreak butterflies, particularly in its colorful tail and wings, and can easily be confused with a diurnal butterfly.

This multicolored moth is black with iridescent red, blue and green markings. There is a fringe of white scales at the wing edges, wider on the hindwings. It has six tails which are often lost or damaged during its life. Pattern variations are common and this often results in partial asymmetry; one of the factors that causes this is thermal shock during the pupal stage.

Euphaedra janetta

multicolored butterfly - Euphaedra janetta

Euphaedra janetta, is a multicolored butterfly of the Nymphalidae family. It resides in many African countries. Like all Euphaedra species, it resides in tropical rainforests, at altitudes of up to 1000 meters.

This magnificent butterfly displays many colors on its wings, both on the ventral and dorsal sides. Above, the background is navy blue with a yellow patch at the tip of the hindwing. Towards the basal zone, we also find yellow slightly bordered by cyan. These colors continue on the hind wings with a progressive domination of cyan over yellow.

The underside of the wings is yellow, marked with black spots and streaks, with a stunning pink patch at the base of the wings. The end is scalloped with a margin shaded in blue.

Euphaedra edwardsi

multicolored butterfly - Euphaedra edwardsi

Euphaedra edwardsii is a single-winged butterfly in the family Nymphalidae. It is found in many African countries. This species is a forest butterfly found at altitudes between sea level and around 1200 meters. It seems to prefer drier, more open secondary forests, and can also be found in botanical gardens and similar habitats.

The wings of Euphaedra edwardsi have incredible shades of color. Dotted with black spots towards the base, they are enhanced with a mixture of blue, green, orange and metallic red. The bluish margin of the hind wings, bordered with yellow-orange spots, contrasts wonderfully with the orange area of ​​the wings of this butterfly. The underside of the wings has a pastel green and blue coloring with a strong dominance of pink.


  • Dayana

    Bonjour Valérie,
    Le comportement du papillon noir que votre maman a observé, manifestant un désir persistant de revenir à l’intérieur, pourrait être interprété de diverses manières. Sur le plan biologique, ce papillon est probablement attiré par des sources de lumière ou des conditions climatiques favorables trouvées à l’intérieur. Symboliquement, dans de nombreuses cultures, les papillons sont vus comme des messagers portant des nouvelles, des changements personnels ou des visites d’êtres chers disparus. Les couleurs vives et les motifs distinctifs de ses ailes pourraient également avoir une signification spécifique, où le noir est souvent associé à la mystère ou au deuil, et l’orange à la joie, à l’énergie et à la transformation. Ce papillon cherchant à revenir peut symboliser un message ou un rappel d’un processus de changement en cours ou à venir dans votre vie ou celle de votre maman.

  • Grossetête

    Bonjour, ma maman a vu chez-elle et papillon noir sous les ails, mais de couleur orange, avec des ronds noirs sur ses ailes. Ce papillon a été remis dehors et ne cesse de vouloir rentrer à nouveau. Que cela signifie-t-il s’il vous plaît ? Merci d’avance… Bien cordialement, Valérie Grossetête.

  • Sophie

    Quel est le nom du papillon dont la couleur des ailes au dessus et en dessous est différente ? Merci

Leave a comment

Please note that comments must be approved prior to posting