Heliconius elevatusAndrew V. Z. Brower and Margarita Beltrán
Heliconius elevatus, a member of the "silvaniform" clade, represents one of the numerous independently-derived instances of the red, black and yellow dennis-ray wing pattern that is the dominant mimicry complex among Amazonian Heliconius species.
Early stages: Eggs are yellow and approximately 1.4 x 1.1 mm (h x w). Females usually place 1 to 3 eggs on growing shoots of the host plant. Mature larvae have a white body with black spots and spines, with black scoli, and orange anal cap and head; length is around 1.6 cm. Caterpillars are gregarious (Brown, 1981).
Adult: Both H. elevatus and rayed H. melpomene races exhibit a horizontal red bar from the base of the hindwing across the discal cell, roughly parallel with the costal margin, and the distal red rays starting from a more-or-less straight line posterior to this and running relatively parallel towards the posterior margin of the wing. This is in contrast to the other rayed Heliconius species (e. g., H. erato, H. demeter, H. xanthocles), in which the discal cell has a teardrop-shaped red mark, and the rays emanate radially from the distal margin of the cell. H. elevatus adults may be distinguished from mimetic H. melpomene races by the yellow subcostal stripe on the underside of the hindwing, which is red in H. melpomene. Also, in H. elevatus, the proximal ends of the hindwing rays are broadened, giving the appearance of "nail heads."
Heliconius elevatus is distributed in the Amazon Basin. The map below 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.
H. elevatus occurs from sea level to 2,000 m in riparian forest. Usually individuals fly rapidly in the canopy. Females mate multiply. Adults roost in loose groups at night at 2-10 m above ground on twigs or tendrils (Brown, 1981).
Hostplant: H. elevatus larvae feed primarily on plants from the subgenus Granadilla (Passifloraceae)(Brown, 1981).
H. elevatus has a number of named geographical races that vary mainly in the degree and position of the yellow forewing spots (Brown 1979; Lamas 2004). Although some forms lack the red hindwing rays, all of them have the red basal patch on the forewing.
- Heliconius elevatus elevatus Noldner 1901, Amazonia
- Heliconius elevatus bari Oberthür 1902, Guianas
- Heliconius elevatus tumatumari Kaye 1906, Guyana
- Heliconius elevatus roraima J. R. G. Turner 1966, western Guyana
- Heliconius elevatus zoelleri Neukirchen 1990, Venezuela
- Heliconius elevatus taracuanus Bryk 1953, upper Rio Negro
- Heliconius elevatus willmotti Neukirchen 1997, eastern Ecuador
- Heliconius elevatus pseudocupineus Neustetter 1931, Peru: Ucayali
- Heliconius elevatus lapis Lamas 1976, Peru: Madre de Dios
- Heliconius elevatus perchlora Joicey & Kaye 1917, Bolivia
- Heliconius elevatus schmassmanni Joicey & Talbot 1925, southern Amazonia
- Heliconius elevatus sonjae Neukirchen 1990, lower Amazon
Brown, K. S., Jr. 1979 Ecologia Geográfica e Evoluçăo nas Florestas Neotropicais. Campinas, Săo Paulo, Brasil: Universidade Estadual de Campinas.
Brown K. S. 1981 The Biology of Heliconius and Related Genera. Annual Review of Entomology 26, 427-456.
Lamas, G. (ed.) 2004 Atlas of Neotropical Lepidoptera. Checklist: Part 4A Hesperioidea - Papiionoidea. Gainesville: Scientific Publishers/Association of Tropical Lepidoptera.
Neukirchen, W. M. 1990 Ein neuer Heliconius aus Venezuela (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Entomol. Z. 100, 310-312.
Neukirchen, W. M. 1997 Zwei neue Heliconiinae aus dem Oriente Ecuadors (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Entomol. Z. 107, 482-487.
Nöldner, E. 1901. Zwei neue Heliconius. Berliner entomologische Zeitschrift 46(1/2):5-8 .
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 12 August 2008
Citing this page:
Brower, Andrew V. Z. and Margarita Beltrán. 2008. Heliconius elevatus http://tolweb.org/Heliconius_elevatus/72900/2008.08.12 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/. Version 12 August 2008 (under construction).