Erato Heliconian (Heliconius erato [Linnaeus])
Wing span: 2 5/8 - 3 1/8 inches (6.7 - 8 cm).
Identification: Forewing black with pink-red band; hindwing black with yellow stripe.
Life history: Males patrol during the day for females, and also mate with females as they emerge from the chrysalis. After mating, males place a repellant chemical on the female's abdomen to keep other males from mating with her. Eggs are laid singly on young tendrils and shoots, which the caterpillars eat.
Flight: June and August-September in South Texas, all year in the tropics.
Caterpillar hosts: Various passion-vines (Passiflora species).
Adult food: Flower nectar and pollen.
Habitat: Tropical and subtropical forests and edges.
Range: Brazil north through Central America to Mexico; a rare stray to South Texas.
Conservation: Not required for rare stray.
The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Management needs: None reported.
Opler, P. A. and V. Malikul. 1992. A field guide to eastern butterflies. Peterson field guide #4. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston. 396 pages, 48 color plates. Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif. 583 pages, 64 color plates.
Author: Jane M. Struttmann
State and Regional References:
Opler, Paul A. 1999. Peterson Field Guide to Western Butterflies, revised edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass. Stanford, R.E. and P.A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western USA Butterflies. Privately published, Denver, Colo.