Hecale Longwing Butterfly Heliconius hecale

Hecale Longwing Butterfly
Hecale Longwing Butterfly
The Hecale Longwing Butterfly, one of the Heliconian or Longwing family, is native from Mexico through Central America to northern South America. It is also called the Golden Longwing, a misnomer since the dark orange colour is rarely "golden", and also the Tiger Longwing - a confusing name since several other longwing butterflies have this as all or part of their names (Ismenius Tiger, Isabella Tiger, Orange Tiger, etc.).
Hecale Longwing Butterfly
Hecale Longwing Butterfly
With its extensive range, it has several subspecies (more than 2 dozen) with different forms. They all mimic toxic "tiger" (orange and black) Ithomiines butterflies flying in the same area. Since the former are toxic to birds, the more palatable mimics are also usually avoided.
Hecale Longwing Butterfly
Hecale Longwing Butterfly
The body is black and white stripes to warn potential predators that it is unpleasant.
Tiger Longwing Butterfly
Deserving its name of Tiger Longwing.
Hecale Longwing Butterfly
Hecale Longwing Butterfly
Hecale Longwing Butterfly
The adults drink nectar and eat pollen, giving them improved longevity over other, non-Heliconian butterflies.
Hecale Longwing Butterfly
Hecale Longwing Butterfly
The caterpillars eat Passion Flower vines.
Cream-spotted Tigerwing Butterfly
Above is one of the species mimicked - similar but slightly different-looking Cream-spotted Tigerwing or Clearwing, Tithorea tarricina.
Hecale Longwing Butterfly cream striped form
Hecale Longwing Butterfly cream striped form
Hecale Longwing Butterfly cream striped form
A cream-striped form of the Hecale Longwing.
Hecale Longwing Butterfly cream striped form
Hecale Longwing Butterfly cream striped form
Hecale Longwing Butterfly cream striped form
The subspecies H. h. zuleika shown on most of this page, ranging from Mexico to Panama, mimics the Cream-spotted Tigerwing Tithorea tarricina shown a couple of rows above. H. h. zeus mimics the Harmonia Tigerwing Tithorea harmonia (see link below) and H. h. ithaca mimics Melinaea marsaeus.