INSECTS - MARC KITAEN ART

POSTMAN BUTTERFLY (Heliconius melpomene)

The postman butterfly has large long wings with an orange stripe down each forewing.

Postman butterflies (Heliconius erato) are slow-flying, laying small yellow eggs on the leaves of passion flower species.


As caterpillars, leaves of Passiflora species. As adults, flower nectar, rotting fruit, and pollen. Postman butterflies are partial to Lantana flowers as well. This foul-tasting butterfly has little to fear from predators. As caterpillars, they feed on passion flower leaves, storing up toxic chemicals retained throughout their lifespan.

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.

The postman butterfly, common postman, or simply postman is one of the heliconiine butterflies found from Mexico to northern South America.

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