Heliconius charithonius(Heliconius charithonius)
Order — lepidoptera
The caterpillars are white with black spots and have numerous black spikes along their body. Adult butterflies are monomorphic of medium size with long wings. On the dorsal side, the wings are black with narrow white and yellow stripes, with a similar pattern on the ventral side, but paler and with red spots. The wingspan ranges from 72 to 100 mm.
The species is distributed across South and Central America and as far north as southern Texas and peninsular Florida; there are migrations north into other American states in the warmer months.
It demonstrates daily activity. Butterflies are poisonous. The flight is fast and easy. In the late afternoon the butterflies gather for the night in groups of up to 30 insects on branches at a height of about 1-2 m above the ground. The overnight stay starts three hours before sunset and ends within two hours after sunrise.
The caterpillars eat the leaves of passionflowers. The passionflower contains a toxin that gives the butterfly an unpleasant taste and makes it poisonous to predators. Butterflies feed on flower nectar. Females eat pollen.
For their reproduction you need a terrarium with a size of 50 x 50 x 70 cm. Eggs are laid in groups of 5-15 on leaf buds or leaves of the host plant.Eggs are light yellow, elongated, their size is about 1.2 x 0.8 mm.The incubation period is 7-10 days.It is better to keep the caterpillars in terrariums of 6-8 pieces. In the terrarium, you need to place a forage plant. Caterpillars feed at night on leaves.Temperature in the terrarium is 22-25 oC at the humidity of 60-70%. The pupae are golden, with many small spines, and they have a pair of flattened horns on the head. The pupa looks like a twisted dry leaf.The life cycle takes a little more than a month. Butterflies live up to 6 months.
The mesh terrarium with a size of 50 × 50 × 70 mm is suitable for keeping butterflies. Room temperature is necessary. Daylight time is 12 hours. You can feed butterflies with honey syrup diluted with boiled water in a ratio of 1: 10 and flower pollen.