Heliconius melpomene

Heliconius melpomene
Heliconius melpomene
300 rub.

Heliconius melpomene(Heliconius melpomene)

Class —insecta
Order — lepidoptera
Family —nymphalidae

Genus –heliconius


The caterpillars are white, with long black spines. The head is orange with a pair of curved black spines.

Heliconius melpomene butterflies are black with a variety of yellow or red bands on forewings and/or hindwings. The coloration is very different in different subspecies.The wingspan of the butterfly is 67-80 mm.


Heliconius melpomene is widespread throughout Central America and South America.


It demonstrates daily activity. Butterflies are poisonous. The flight is fast and easy. Butterflies spend the night in small groups on branches up to 2-10 meters from the ground. They always spend the night in the same place. These butterflies are able to distinguish a wider range of yellow hues than other species. Females have receptors on their forelegs that are needed to find a suitable plant when laying eggs.

Caterpillars are solitary or in small groups of 2-3 individuals.


Caterpillars exhibit a behavior known as monophagy, meaning they feed on only one kind of plant, specifically the genus Passiflora. In Heliconius melpomene, the host plants are limited to Passiflora oerstedii and Passiflora menispermifolia. Species of the genus Passiflora have evolved many chemical defenses, but Heliconius caterpillars have developed adaptations that allow them to continue to feed on the plants and actually incorporate the toxic compounds into their systems and make them unpalatable to predators.

Butterflies feed on flower nectar.The females eat pollen.


For their reproduction you need a terrarium with a size of 50 x 50 x 70 cm. Females usually place eggs singly on stipules and young leaves of the host plant. Eggs are yellow and approximately 1.5 x 1 mm (h x w).It is better to keep the caterpillars in terrariums of 6-8 pieces. In the terrarium, you need to place a branch of a forage plant. Temperature in the terrarium is 22-25 oC at the humidity of 65-75%. Pupae are brown with gold spots on the dorsum, the thorax is strongly bowed and have five pairs of black spines in the abdomen. The head has short head horns and the antennae have many short black spines. The life cycle takes a little more than a month. Butterflies live up to 8 months.

In captivity

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.