Mechanitis Polymnia, or the orange-spotted tiger clearwing or disturbed tiger wing, is a butterfly from Mexico down to the Amazon rainforest. They are colored orange, yellow, and black butterflies and grow to about 3-inches wide.
All butterflies are beautiful, they have beautiful colors and patterns but for this butterfly, it’s not about the colors of the wings that make it special, it is chrysalis!
These butterflies have shiny silver and gold-like chrysalis that look like a piece of jewelry, it looks so unreal but it is real. They are so reflective it’s like looking in a mirror.
Chrysalis is the term used to refer to the stage during which the caterpillar transforms into the butterfly. A chrysalis is the hard skin that covers a butterfly pupa before it finally becomes a full-grown or adult butterfly. The shiny golden chrysalis they spin contain pupae, the third stage of baby butterfly’s development.
They seem to be made of gold, because of their brightness and texture. Many believe they are actually made of metal, however, it is not true. Although they look metallic, they are actually made of chitin, the natural substance possessed by some insects and crustaceans that gives some insects their shiny look.
And they have a very good reason to look like that, it is for their own protection. Butterfly pupae are easy targets, pupae cannot move and are unable to defend themselves. So in order to survive this dangerous life stage, their only weapon is their outer appearance to deter predators.
It is believed that the shiny surface of the orange-spotted tiger clearwing’s chrysalis scares predators when they see their own reflection and are not smart enough to know they are looking at themselves. The shiny pupa also reflects nearby plants making them very hard to see.
This shiny coloration is only for a few days. After a few days, these chrysalises lose their shine to give way to a beautiful butterfly with tabby wings.