TX Organic Research Center



Clear Wing Butterfly

A listener  forwarded images of a beautiful butterfly with see-through wings.  

Mike Merchant, Urban Entomologist with Texas Cooperative Extension says that  butterfly wings are naturally clear. This species simply lacks the scales on part of its wings allowing you to see the normally transparent wing membrane. Some of the native borer moths (the clearwinged borers) also have clear portions of the wings, but because they are smaller they are less often noticed by the casual observer.

This is certainly an unusual (for Texas) butterfly. It is one of the longwing butterflies, a mostly tropical family. It appears to be the thick-tipped greta (Greta morgane) (see www.naba.org/chapters/nabast/morgane.html), which was listed on the NABA site as a new U.S. record a couple of years ago. That specimen was seen in the Valley. If this is indeed a Texas sighting, it would be of interest to butterfly experts. Apparently the recent climatic shifting has resulted in a number of new species sightings in Texas in recent years.

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