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Heliconius himera Hewitson 1867

Chris Jiggins
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Containing group: Heliconius


This species is a close relative of Heliconius erato that is found in the dry forests of south west Ecuador and north west Peru, and into the Maranon valley on the eastern slopes of the Andes.  It is quite abundant and very distinctive, being non-mimetic and therefore unlike other sympatric species.  It has been extensively studied as a model for understanding speciation.  It hybridises with Heliconius erato cyrbia in a narrow zone in south west Ecuador where hybrids form about 10% of overlapping populations.

Etymology: The Nymphai Himeriai were Naiad Nymphs of the hot-water springs of the town of Himera in Eastern Sikelia (Sicily). The Naiades were fresh-water Nymphs who inhabited the rivers, streams, lakes, marshes, fountains and springs of the earth. They were immortal, minor divinities who were invited to attend the assemblies of the gods on Mount Olympos (NAIADES HIMERIAI).


Hostplant: Heliconius himera utilize two species of Passiflora, P. rubra and P. punctata (Jiggins et al. 1997b).


Descimon H, Mast De Maeght J. 1984. Semispecies relationships between Heliconius erato cyrbia Godt. and H. himera Hew. in southwestern Ecuador. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 22: 229-39

Jiggins CD, McMillan WO. 1997. The genetic basis of an adaptive radiation; mimicry in two Heliconius sibling species. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B 264: 1167-75

Jiggins CD, King P, McMillan WO, Mallet J. 1997a. The maintenance of species differences across a Heliconius hybrid zone. Heredity 79: 495-505

Jiggins CD, McMillan WO, Mallet J. 1997b. Host plant adaptation has not played a role in the recent speciation of Heliconius erato and Heliconius himera (Lepidoptera; Nymphalidae). Ecological Entomology 22: 361-5

Jiggins CD, McMillan WO, Neukirchen W, Mallet J. 1996. What can hybrid zones tell us about speciation? The case of Heliconius erato and H. himera (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 59: 221-42

McMillan WO, Jiggins CD, Mallet J. 1997. What initiates speciation in passion vine butterflies? Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 94: 8628-33

Hewitson W C. 1854. Illustrations of new species of exotic butterflies, selected chiefly from the collections of W. Wilson Saunders and William C. Hewitson. London, John Van Voorst. 4(63): [7-8], [15-16], [77-78], pls. [5], [9], [42] (22 July), (64): [29-30], [107-108], pls. [16-17], [57] (20 November)

NAIADES HIMERIAI. Theoi Greek Mythology. http://www.theoi.com/Nymphe/NymphaiHimeriai.html [Accessed Jul 23, 2008].

Title Illustrations
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Scientific Name Heliconius himera
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Image Use creative commons This media file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License - Version 3.0.
Copyright © Chris Jiggins
About This Page

Chris Jiggins
University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Chris Jiggins at

Page: Tree of Life Heliconius himera Hewitson 1867. Authored by Chris Jiggins. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.

Citing this page:

Jiggins, Chris. 2008. Heliconius himera Hewitson 1867. Version 12 August 2008 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Heliconius_himera/72241/2008.08.12 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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