Heliconius timaretaAndrew V. Z. Brower and Margarita Beltrán
Heliconius timareta is a cognate of H. cydno (Brower 1994, 1996; Beltrán et al. 2007), occurring on the eastern slopes of the Andes in Ecuador and northern Peru. It is polymorphic in its color pattern, with individuals exhibiting either no red on the hindwings (nominate form), hindwing rays but no horizontal bar (forms contiguus, virgata, insolita, peregrina), or "complete" red rayed hindwing with the horizontal red bar and red rays (form strandi). There is also variation in the distribution and size of the yellow forewing spots. The various forms are likely to be involved in Müllerian mimicry with H. clysonymus (in the case of the forms with red hindwings) or H. sara/H. doris (in the case of those without). A second geographic race, H. t. timoratus was recently described by Lamas from the Cordillera del Condor (Lamas 1998).
Etymology: Timarete, Timareta - A priestess of Zeus at Dodonna during the time of Herodotos and a Hellenistic woman dedicated to Artemis (Connelly, 2007).
Early stages: Eggs are yellow and approximately 1.7 x 1.1 mm (h x w). Females usually place eggs singly on growing shoots of the host plant. Mature larvae have a white body with black spots, black scoli and the head is orange, length is around 2 cm. Caterpillars are gregarious in small numbers (Brown, 1981).
Heliconius timareta is distributed in east Ecuador.
Distribution of Heliconius cydno subspecies and related species, including H. timareta. Note that question marks refer to two undescribed forms recently discovered near Florencia (Colombia) by Linares and Giraldo, and near Tarapoto (Peru) by Mavarez, Joron and Mallet. Thanks to Jim Mallet, Mauricio Linares and Larry Gilbert for some of the butterfly images that went into this map. © Chris Jiggins.
H. timareta occurs from 400 to 2,400 m in montane forest. Usually individuals fly rapidly and in the middlestory. Females mate multiply and adults roost solitarily at night at 2-10m above ground on twigs or tendrils.
Hostplant: H. timareta is polyphagous and larvae feed primarily on plants from the subgenus Granadilla from Quadrangulares, Digitales, Laurifoliae sections (Passifloraceae) (Brown, 1981).
As noted above, there are a number of named sympatric forms that differ in the presence or absence of various red hindwing pattern elements. The names for these are infrasubspecific, and are considered to be synonyms of the nominate geographical race.
- Heliconius timareta timareta Hewitson 1867, eastern Ecuador
- Heliconius timareta timoratus Lamas 1998, northeastern Peru
- Heliconius contiguus
- Heliconius timareta ab. richardi
- Heliconius melpomene timareta ab. virgata
- Heliconius melpomene timareta f. insolita
- Heliconius melpomene timareta f. peregrina
- Heliconius timareta f. strandi
Beltrán, M., Jiggins, C. D., Brower, A. V. Z., Bermingham, E. & Mallet, J. 2007 Do pollen feeding, pupal-mating and larval gregariousness have a single origin in Heliconius butterflies? Inferences from multilocus DNA sequence data. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 92, 221-239.
Brower, A. V. Z. 1994 Phylogeny of Heliconius butterflies inferred from mitochondrial DNA sequences (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 3, 159-174.
Brower, A. V. Z. 1996 A new mimetic species of Heliconius (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae), from southeastern Colombia, as revealed by cladistic analysis of mitochondrial DNA sequences. Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 116, 317-332.
Brown, K. S. 1981 The Biology of Heliconius and Related Genera. Annual Review of Entomology 26, 427-456.
Hewitson, W. C. 1867 Descriptions of some new species of diurnal Lepidoptera. Trans. Ent. Soc. Lond. Third Series, 5, 561-566.
Connelly, J. B. 2007 Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Lamas, G. 1998 Comentarios taxonómicos y nomenclaturales sobre Heliconiini neotropicales con designación de lectotipos y descripción de cuatro subespecies nuevas (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Heliconiinae). Rev. Per. Ent. 40, 111-125.
Lamas, G. (ed.) 2004 Atlas of Neotropical Lepidoptera. Checklist: Part 4A Hesperioidea - Papiionoidea. Gainesville: Scientific Publishers/Association of Tropical Lepidoptera.
Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Andrew V. Z. Brower at and Margarita Beltrán at
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- First online 18 February 2007
- Content changed 04 September 2008
Citing this page:
Brower, Andrew V. Z. and Margarita Beltrán. 2008. Heliconius timareta http://tolweb.org/Heliconius_timareta/72253/2008.09.04 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/. Version 04 September 2008 (under construction).