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Heliconius charithonia (Linnaeus 1767)

the Zebra Longwing,
Heliconius charitonia
Linnaeus 1767 [a misspelling in the index of 12th edn. of Linnaeus' Systema Naturae, that was perpetuated by many subsequent authors. The correct spelling was codified in the ICZN official list of specific names by Holthuis and Hemming (1956).],
Heliconius charitonius
Linnaeus 1767 [a misspelled name proposed by Comstock and Brown (1950) to achieve gender agreement with the generic name. However, charithonia is a noun in apposition that does not require gender agreement with the genus name]

Margarita Beltrán and Andrew V. Z. Brower
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Containing group: Heliconius

Introduction

A widespread neotropical species, ranging from the southern U. S. to subtropical southern South America and throughout the Antilles.

Etymology: The Charites, or Graces, are the personifications of charm and beauty in nature and in human life. They love all things beautiful and bestow talent upon mortals. Together with the Muses they serve as sources of inspiration in poetry and the arts. Originally, they were goddesses of fertility and nature, closely associated with the underworld and the Eleusinian mysteries (Charites). 

Characteristics

Early stages: Eggs are yellow or white and approximately 1.2 x 0.8 mm (h x w). Females usually place 1 to 5 eggs on growing shoots of the host plant. Mature larvae have a white body, with black spots or bands, black scoli and yellow and black or black and white head; length is around 1.2 cm. Caterpillars are gregarious in small numbers (Brown, 1981).

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From left to right: Heliconius charithonia female laying eggs on her hostplant in Mexico City. © Maria Franco. Eggs, second, and third instar larva on hostplant in Gainesville, Florida.  In Florida, H. charithonia larvae often completely defoliate their Passiflora hostplants. © . Last instar larva feeding on host plant and getting ready to pupate in Mexico City. © Maria Franco.

From left to right: Heliconius charithonia early pupa, pupa with butterfly ready to eclose, eclosing butterfly, and eclosed butterfly expanding and drying its wings. Mexico City, Mexico, November 2005 © Maria Franco.

Adult: Distinguished immediately by the zebra pattern, which gives it the common name of the "zebra" (DeVries, 1997).

Geographical Distribution

Heliconius charithonia is distributed from North America to Venezuela and Peru. This map shows an approximate representation of the geographic distribution of this species. The original data used to draw these maps are derived from Brown (1979) which is available at Keith S. Brown Jr. (1979). Ecological Geography and Evolution in Neotropical Forests

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Distribution of Heliconius charithonia. © 2002 Margarita Beltran.

Habits

H. charithonia occurs from sea level to 1,800 m in edges and scrubs.  Usually individuals fly erraticly and in the lowerstory. The males sit on female pupae a day before emergence, and mating occurs the next morning, before the female has completely eclosed. Adults roost at night in large groups lower than 2 m above ground in twigs or tendrils (Brown, 1981).

Host plant: H. charithonia larvae feed primarily on plants from the genus Passiflora, subgenus Granadilla, Tryphostemmatoides, and Plectostemma (Brown, 1981). In Costa Rica H. charithonia feeds on Tetrastylis lobata (Passifloraceae) (DeVries, 1997).

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Heliconius charithonia on passion-vine in Mexico City, Mexico. © Maria Franco

References

Brower AVZ. 1994. The case of the missing H: Heliconius charithonia (L., 1767), not "Heliconius charitonia (L. 1767)". J. Lepid. Soc. 48: 166-168.

Brown K. S. 1981 The Biology of Heliconius and Related Genera. Annual Review of Entomology 26, 427-456.

"Charites." Encyclopedia Mythica from Encyclopedia Mythica Online. http://www.pantheon.org/articles/c/charites.html [Accessed May 22, 2008].

Comstock, WP, and Brown FM. 1950 Geographical variation and subspeciation in Heliconius charitonius Linnaeus (Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae). Amer. Mus. Novit. 1467, 1-21.

Davies N, and Bermingham E. 2002. The historical biogeography of two Caribbean butterflies (Lepidoptera: Heliconiidae) as inferred from genetic variation at multiple loci. Evolution 56: 573-589.

DeVries P. J. 1997 The Butterflies of Costa Rica and Their Natural History, Volume I: Papilionidae, Pieridae, Nymphalidae Princeton University Press, Baskerville, USA.

Lamas G ed. 2004. Atlas of Neotropical Lepidoptera. Checklist: Part 4A Hesperioidea - Papiionoidea. Gainesville: Scientific Publishers/Association of Tropical Lepidoptera.

Linnaeus, C. 1767. Systema naturae. Editio duodecima reformata. Holmiae, Laurentius Salvius. 1(2): [ii] , 533-1328 , [36] pp.

Title Illustrations
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Scientific Name Heliconius charithonia
Acknowledgements This image is licensed under the Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Creative Commons License.
source: flickr: Zebra Longwing
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Source Collection Flickr
Copyright © 2006 Justin Lowery
About This Page


University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK


Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, USA

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Margarita Beltr?n at and Andrew V. Z. Brower at

Page: Tree of Life Heliconius charithonia (Linnaeus 1767). the Zebra Longwing,
Heliconius charitonia
Linnaeus 1767 [a misspelling in the index of 12th edn. of Linnaeus' Systema Naturae, that was perpetuated by many subsequent authors. The correct spelling was codified in the ICZN official list of specific names by Holthuis and Hemming (1956).],
Heliconius charitonius
Linnaeus 1767 [a misspelled name proposed by Comstock and Brown (1950) to achieve gender agreement with the generic name. However, charithonia is a noun in apposition that does not require gender agreement with the genus name].
Authored by Margarita Beltr?n and Andrew V. Z. Brower. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.

Citing this page:

Beltrán, Margarita and Brower, Andrew V. Z. 2008. Heliconius charithonia (Linnaeus 1767). the Zebra Longwing,
Heliconius charitonia
Linnaeus 1767 [a misspelling in the index of 12th edn. of Linnaeus' Systema Naturae, that was perpetuated by many subsequent authors. The correct spelling was codified in the ICZN official list of specific names by Holthuis and Hemming (1956).],
Heliconius charitonius
Linnaeus 1767 [a misspelled name proposed by Comstock and Brown (1950) to achieve gender agreement with the generic name. However, charithonia is a noun in apposition that does not require gender agreement with the genus name]. Version 13 August 2008 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Heliconius_charithonia/72949/2008.08.13 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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