Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera (Moths and butterflies)
Family: Nymphalidae (brush footed butterflies)

Genus/species: Heliconius hecale

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: All Heliconius species have long black wings bearing simple but striking patterns, typically featuring streaks or patches of red and cream, or blue and cream. Several including hecale have subspecies which mimic ‘tiger complex’ orange and black. In fact every one of the 29 hecale subspecies mimics. They are all toxic to birds. Studies have provided strong evidence that birds which eat the them suffer from nausea and vomiting.


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Found from Central America south throughout Amazonia. Habitat: Occurs from sea level to 1,400 m (4600 feet) in tall forests.

DIET IN THE WILD: they nectar at Hamelia, Lantana and Palicourea. Females feed on pollen as well as nectar.

Ventral or wing bottom

Tiger Longwing 3779879064_915dfdc8af_b

REMARKS: Heliconians are brightly colored butterflies with especially long wings, hence the common name. Tiger Longwings and many other Heliconians are communal roosters. Each night a number of butterflies, either of the same or related species, assemble for the night, often on a single branch.


California Academy of Sciences 2017

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