Heliconius astraeaAndrew V. Z. Brower and Margarita Beltrán
An Amazonian Heliconius species belonging to the H. egeria group and exhibiting the common red-and-yellow "dennis/ray" mimetic wing pattern.
Etymology: Astraea is the star-maiden, daughter of Zeus and Themis. She was, as was her mother, a goddess of justice. During the Golden Age, when the gods dwelled among mankind, she lived on the earth. When evil and wickedness increased its grip on humanity, the gods abandoned the habitations of mankind. Astraea was the last to leave and took up her abode among the stars where she was transformed into the constellation Virgo (Astraea).
Early stages: Eggs are cream and approximately 1.2 x 0.9 mm (h x w). Females usually place 1 to 3 eggs on growing shoots of the host plant. Mature larvae have an orange body with black spots, with black scoli and head, length is around 2 cm. Caterpillars are gregarious. (Brown, 1981).
H. astraea occurs from sea level to 1,300 m in the forest canopy. Usually individuals fly rapidly and in the canopy. Females mate multiply and adults roost solitarily at night 2-10 m above the ground on twigs or tendrils.
Host plant: H. astraea larvae feed primarily on plants from the genus Passiflora, subgenus Distephana (Brown, 1981).
Heliconius astraea is distributed from Brazil to 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
Two minor geographical races have been described:
- Heliconius astraea astraea Staudinger 1897, northern Amazonia
- Helicoius astraea rondonia K. S. Brown 1973, Rio Madeira, Brazil
"Astraea." Encyclopedia Mythica from Encyclopedia Mythica Online. http://www.pantheon.org/articles/a/astraea.html [Accessed May 22, 2008].
Brown K. S. 1981 The Biology of Heliconius and Related Genera. Annual Review of Entomology 26, 427-456.
Brown, K. S., Jr. 1973 The heliconians of Brazil (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Part V. Three new subspecies from Mato Grosso and Rondônia. Bull. Allyn Mus. 13, 1-19.
Staudinger, O. 1897 Neue Heliconius-Arten und Formen. Deutsches Ent. Zeit. Iris 9, 284-317, 2 plates.
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Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, USA
University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Andrew V. Z. Brower at and Margarita Beltrán at
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- First online 24 June 2008
- Content changed 13 August 2008
Citing this page:
Brower, Andrew V. Z. and Margarita Beltrán. 2008. Heliconius astraea http://tolweb.org/Heliconius_astraea/72912/2008.08.13 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/. Version 13 August 2008 (under construction).