Heliconius melpomene food source

Nigel Venters nigelventers at ntlworld.com
Fri Aug 9 12:43:30 EDT 2002

Actually H. melpomene is a specialised species in it's choice of
foodplant...it just happens to feed on P. caerulea as well as P.
menisperifolia and P. oerstedii. Heliconids fall into separate groups when
choosing foodplants. Some will take just about any Passiflora (But not H.
melpomene!) ....some species will use a few different foodplants....and some
species will (Which has always been a surprise to me!) seem to take only one
species of Passiflora.

How they and where they lay also alters by species....Heliconid adults will
lay their eggs in a batch or singly...for example H. doris will lay a huge
batch while H. melpomene lays eggs singly..... the position where they lay
eggs on the plant also alters depending on species...D. juno for example
will only lay It's eggs on old leaves near the base (A batch) where H.
melpomene favours tendrils or new shoots.

With H. melpomene you may like to consider collecting the eggs daily,
especially if you don't have too much foodplant available as a many
Heliconids that lay singly (like H. melpomene) look for places where there
are very few or no eggs laid on the plant before they will lay an egg
themselves...this over countless years has caused many Passiflora species to
take advantage of this behaviour and evolve nodules or raised yellow spots
on the leaves to discourage Heliconid females from laying on them. Hope this
----- Original Message -----
From: "Paolo Mazzei" <mazzeip at tin.it>
To: "Leps-l" <leps-l at lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Friday, August 09, 2002 3:59 PM
Subject: R: Heliconius melpomene food source

> I have reared Heliconius melpomene on Passiflora caerulea without any
> problem, as Neil Jones says it's not a specialised species.
> Paolo Mazzei mailto:mazzeip at tin.it
> Webmaster of:
> "Moths and Butterflies of Europe" http://www.leps.it/
> "Amphibians and Reptiles of Europe" http://www.herp.it/
>  ------------------------------------------------------------
>    For subscription and related information about LEPS-L visit:
>    http://www.peabody.yale.edu/other/lepsl


   For subscription and related information about LEPS-L visit:


More information about the Leps-l mailing list