Heliconius saraMargarita Beltrán and Andrew V. Z. Brower
A widespread neotropical species. H. sara is a relatively small Heliconius, and member of one of the few sister-taxon mimetic pairs (with H. leucadia).
Early stages: Eggs are yellow and approximately 1.1 x 0.7 mm (h x w). Females gather together and usually each place 15 to 40 eggs on growing shoots of the host plant. Mature larvae have a yellow body with black bands, with black scoli and head; length is approximately 0.4 cm. Caterpillars are gregarious (Brown, 1981). Pupae are pale brown with black spines and black veins on the wingpads, the head horns are short and have few golden spots (DeVries, 1997).
Heliconius sara is widespread throughout Central America and South America. 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.
H. sara sara (Fabricius, 1793) Guiana Shield
= H. sara rhea (Cramer, 1775) (invalid, preoccupied Papilio rhea Poda, 1761)
= H. sara thamar (HŁbner, ) (described in NerŽis)
= H. rhea ab. albilinea Riffarth, 1899 (infrasubspecific, ICZN Art. 45.6.2)
=H. sara praesignis Stichel, 1919
=H. sara thamar f. nana Stammeshaus, 1982 (infrasubspecific, ICZN Art. 45.6.1)
H. sara apseudes (HŁbner, ) (described in NerŽis) Brazil
= H. sara apseudes (HŁbner, ) nomen nudum
H. sara brevimacula Riffarth, 1901 (ICZN Art. 45.5.1) Colombia
=H. sara var. magdalena ab.? (var.?) brevimaculata Staudinger, 1897 (infrasubspecific, ICZN Art. 45.6.1)
H. sara elektra Neukirchen, 1998 Colombia
H. sara fulgidus Stichel, 1906 Costa Rica
H. sara magdalena H. W. Bates, 1864 Colombia, Panama
=H. sara var. magdalena ab, albimaculata Staudinger, 1897 (infrasubspecific, ICZN Art. 45.6.1)
=H. sara ab. albula Riffarth, 1900 (infrasubspecific, ICZN Art. 45.6.2)
=H. sarae lilianae Emsley, 1965 (nomen nudum)
H. sara sprucei H. W. Bates, 1864 Ecuador
H. sara theudela Hewitson, 1874 Panama
H. sara veraepacis H. W. Bates 1864 Guatemala
H. sara williami Neukirchen, 1994 Trinidad
H. sara occurs from sea level to 1,300 m in forest edges. Usually individuals fly slowly and in the middlestory. The males sit on female pupae a day before emergence, and mating occurs the next morning, before the female has completely eclosed. Adults roost at night in small groups 2 to 10 m above ground in twigs or tendrils (Brown, 1981).
Host plant: H. sara larvae feed primarily on plants from the subgenera Astrophea and Granadilla (Passifloraceae) (Brown 1981). In Costa Rica H. s. fulgidus and H. s. theudela feed on Passiflora ariculata (DeVries, 1997).
Brown K. S. 1981 The Biology of Heliconius and Related Genera. Annual Review of Entomology 26, 427-456.
DeVries P. J. 1997 The Butterflies of Costa Rica and Their Natural History, Volume I: Papilionidae, Pieridae, Nymphalidae Princeton University Press, Baskerville, USA.
Fabricius J. C.1793. Entomologia systematica emendata et aucta. Secundum classes, ordines, genera, species adjectis synonimis, locis, observationibus, descriptionibus. Hafniae, Christian Gottlieb Proft, Fil. et Soc. 3(1): [vi] , 488 pp.
Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Margarita BeltrŠn at and Andrew V. Z. Brower at
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- First online 18 February 2007
- Content changed 21 June 2010
Citing this page:
Beltrán, Margarita and Andrew V. Z. Brower. 2010. Heliconius sara http://tolweb.org/Heliconius_sara/72943/2010.06.21 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/. Version 21 June 2010 (under construction).