Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed or four-footed butterflies) The first pair of legs are small or reduced, giving the family the other names of four-footed or brush-footed butterflies.
Subfamily: Heliconiinae (passion-vine butterflies)

Genus/species: Heliconius melpomene


GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The Postman has large long wings with an orange stripe down each forewing and is famous for the geographic diversity of its color pattern, having around 30 named subspecies. These factors, in combination with its co-mimicry with Heliconius erato, make an individual sometimes difficult to identify.

Postman (wing bottom)Heliconius melpomene

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: H. melpomene is widespread in the Neotropics of Central and South America to southern Brazil. They are found in open areas, also locally common along river edges and streams.

DIET IN THE WILD: A plant specialist on passion vine flowers (Passiflora spp.). In Central America, focuses on only two species; in other areas, is more of a generalist, feeding on several Passiflora species.

Postman butterfly 3128914991_1200b58be7_o

LONGEVITY: Heliconius spp. are among the Methuselahs of the butterfly world. Most butterflies live only days; some Heliconians in the adult (butterfly) stage, including the Postman, live for as long as 8 months.


REMARKS: The Postman is reportedly named after its habit of flying a route that allows visitation of all the nectar plants in a given area like a postman delivering the mail.
In Greek mythology, Mt. Helicon was sacred home to the Muses; Melpomene is the Muse of Tragedy.


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