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Butterflies of Mexico, USA & Canada
Julia, or Flambeau
Dryas iulia  FABRICIUS, 1775
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - HELICONIINAE
Tribe - HELICONIINI
Dryas iulia Adrian Hoskins
Introduction
The dazzling orange Julia is widespread and common in the southern United States, and extends south through Central America and much of the Caribbean, and throughout all of the tropical and subtropical areas of South America.
Habitats
The butterflies fly in rainforest and deciduous forests, but are commonly encountered in disturbed open habitats such as forest clearings, cattle pastures, along riverbanks, and in flowery gardens.
Dryas iulia Adrian Hoskins
Lifecycle
Like most other Heliconiines, the Julia lays it's eggs on Passiflora ( Passion flower ). There has been a great deal of study into the relationship between these plants and Heliconiine butterflies, which strongly suggests they they co-evolved. There is a constant evolutionary battle in which the plants try to defend themselves from the butterflies. Some Passiflora vines for example produce false stipules at the base of leaf stems, that induce egg laying by certain Heliconiine species. A day or two later the stipules drop off, carrying the eggs with them. Eggs which fall to the ground probably get eaten by ants, but even if they survive, the resulting larvae will starve. Certain other Passiflora vines produce tiny tubercules on the stipules that mimic Heliconiine eggs. Any butterfly visiting the plant sees the false eggs, is misled into thinking that the plant is already overladen with eggs, and is consequently inhibited from ovipositing.
The Julia lays it's eggs singly, on the tendrils and leaves of Passiflora and Plectostemma, or even on nearby vegetation, and is thus less specialised than most other Heliconiines. Perhaps as a consequence it is far more common and widespread than most other members of the subfamily.
The body of the multicoloured caterpillar is adorned with long black thorny spines, with a further pair arising from the head. It feeds openly in the daylight.
Adult behaviour

Males often gather in small groups to drink at damp mineral-rich sites such as salt-licks, sandbanks, peccary wallows, or urine-soaked earth. They are also regularly observed sipping liquid from the corner of the eyes of the yellow-throated caiman in Brazil, or from the eyes of turtles in Peru !

Females behave differently, visiting flowers including Lantana, Eupatorium and various canopy species, but as well as drinking nectar they feed on dissolved pollen, from which they obtain nutrients that have been shown to be essential to egg production.

I have not observed the courtship, but in Costa Rica have found mated pairs resting on low foliage with wings closed, in early afternoon. When copulated the butterflies are very reluctant to fly.

Dryas iulia Adrian Hoskins

 

 

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