Mexico, USA & Canada
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
Tribe - HELICONIINI
Dione moneta, a group of males at a mountain stream ©
Heliconiinae was until a few years ago recently considered to be a
full family equal in rank to the Nymphalidae, Satyridae,
Papilionidae etc. In 1958 Erlich proposed that the families
containing butterflies with only two pairs of legs should all be
classified as subfamilies within the Nymphalidae. This proposition
was again advanced by Ackery in 1984 and has since become accepted
by most biologists. Thus we now have the Libytheinae, Satyrinae,
Nymphalinae, Limenitidinae, Charaxinae, Apaturinae, Morphinae,
Biblidinae, Ithomiinae, Danainae and Heliconiinae.
The higher classification of the Heliconiinae was revised
by Penz & Peggie
in 2003, being subdivided into the Acraeini, Argynnini and
Heliconiini. The latter are colloquially known as Longwings and are
characterised by their simple patterns, elongated forewings and
delicate fluttering flight.
Heliconiini includes the genus Heliconius
( 39 spp ), and the smaller genera Dryas,
Podotricha, Agraulis and
Dione. The latter genus contains 3
species - glycera,
juno and moneta
- all with orange uppersides and silver-spangled undersides.
Dione moneta is the
most widespread species in the genus, occurring from the southern
USA to Peru, Bolivia and northern Argentina.
This species is migratory in behaviour so can be found in almost any
habitat, and at any altitude from 0-3500m. It is most often
encountered in open sunny areas including riverbanks, rocky slopes,
pastures and roadsides - in fact anywhere where there is an
abundance of nectar sources.
The egg is yellow when first laid, but later turns reddish. It is
laid either singly on the leaves and tendrils of
Tetrastylis ( Passifloraceae ).
larva when fully grown is dark brown, covered with grey and orange
spots, and adorned with short whorled spines on the back and sides.
chrysalis is dark brown with a rough texture. It is contorted in
shape, with the wing-cases bowed forward, the thorax keeled, and a
large notch between the thorax and abdomen. It is suspended by the
cremaster from woody stems or dead leaves.
Males can sometimes be seen
congregating in two's or three's at places where mountain rivulets
ford roads, and filter-feed, drinking large quantities of clear water,
unlike other Nymphalids, which tend to prefer imbibing from mud or
sexes nectar at a wide variety of flowers.