Mexico, USA & Canada
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
Tribe - HELICONIINI
© Adrian Hoskins
The Heliconiinae is
divided into 3 tribes Acraeini, Argynnini and Heliconiini.
The latter are colloquially known as Longwings and are confined to
the neotropical region. They are easily recognised by their
distinctive patterns, elongated forewings and characteristic
delicate fluttering flight.
Heliconiini includes Heliconius ( 39
species ), and the smaller genera Dryas,
The latter is distinguished by its broader wings, shorter antennae
and instantly recognisable tiger striped pattern,
Dryadula phaetusa is
the sole member of its genus. It is a common and widespread species
found from Mexico to Brazil and Bolivia.
This species occurs at elevations between 0-1000m. It can be found
in disturbed areas including forest clearings, pastures, riverbanks
and roadsides through rainforest or deciduous woodlands.
The larva is dull purplish in colour and covered in short bristly
spines. It feeds on Passiflora.
Males have regular perching places,
typically settling on a log or tree stump near the forest edge, and
will return repeatedly to the same perch after being disturbed. In
early afternoon they patrol in search of females, which they pursue
until the latter settle on the ground, usually beneath a bush or tree.
The male flutters around the female in a figure-of-eight movement
before settling beside her.
If she is receptive
she remains motionless, and the male then half opens his wings. He
then flutters them very rapidly for a few seconds to direct his
pheromones towards her antennae, which has the effect of placating
her. The male then curves his abdomen around to make contact and
copulate. Once joined he adjusts
his position so that the butterflies are facing away from each other.
Both sexes nectar at
Just before dusk the butterflies settle
under the leaves of bushes, where they spend the night. This species
in common with many other Heliconiines roosts gregariously overnight.
© Adrian Hoskins