Banded Orange Heliconian

A very stunning butterfly is the Banded Orange Heliconian (Dryadula phaetusa) also known as the Orange Tiger.

It can be found from Mexico to northern Argentina, and in summer can be found on rare occasions as far north as central Florida.

Photographed at the Minnesota Zoo’s Butterfly Exhibit, the Banded Orange butterfly  sits atop a Purple Coneflower. Copyright © 2005 by April King. Find Coneflower seeds here: http://amzn.to/2oghGMr

The vertical lines on the wings are an example of disruptive patterning. This breaks up the outline of the butterfly to make it difficult for birds and other predators to see and catch it.

Ventral and dorsal view of Banded Orange Heliconian. Photo by Didier Descouens.

This butterfly displays many interesting behaviors. It not only feeds on the nectar of flowers, the males sip nutrients from wet sand and mud and bird droppings. This behavior is called mud-puddling. From the fluids they obtain nutrients such as salts and amino acids needed for successful mating.

Banded Orange Heliconian photographed near Iguazu Falls, where the countries of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay meet, and one of the best places in the world to see butterflies. http://www.focusonnature.com/IguazuButterfliesList.htm

It is also common to see the male Banded Orange Heliconian sipping the salty tears of crocodiles.

Males are very territorial and will find a place to perch near the host plant, Passionvine (passiflora spp.), where they can watch for females. They patrol around the area in search of females. Once a potential mate is spotted, the male will flutter around the female in a figure-eight motion before settling beside her. If she is receptive she remains motionless, and the male then half opens his wings. He then flutters them very rapidly for a few seconds to direct his pheromones towards her antennae, which has the effect of placating her. The male then curves his abdomen around to make contact and copulate.

Just like many Heliconius species, the butterflies will find a bush or tree where they can rest for the night. They tend to find the same place every day around dusk to settle down in clusters to roost overnight.

Roosting Banded Orange Heliconian butterflies. Photo by Almir Candido de Almeida.

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