Heliconius butterfly larvae eat Passion Flower (Passiflora) leaves, tendrils and stems. Some Heliconius butterflies will lay eggs on only one particular Passiflora species. Others are limited to a few different species of Passiflora. However, most Heliconius butterfly caterpillars will eat a wide variety of Passiflora. Below is a list of Heliconius butterflies and their associated Passion Flower plants. The first plants mentioned tend to be the butterfly's wild foodplant while the rest are plants that butterfly larvae have been successfully reared on in captivity. Passiflora plants are divided into several subgenus categories and, generally speaking, most species of Heliconius butterfly larvae prefer Passiflora from either the Decaloba subgenus or the true Passiflora subgenus.
HELICONIUS ATTHIS - officially P. resticulata, but feed on all the passiflora that melpomene do (also generally preferring the passiflora passiflora subgenus)
HELICONIUS CYDNO - P. biflora, P. vitifolia, P. caerulea, P. Postman, P. mollissima, P. ligularis, P. edulis(?), P. violacea and many other Passiflora species (they also prefer the passiflora passiflora subgenus)
HELICONIUS HECALE - P. platyloba, P. oerstedii, P. vitifolia, P. caerulea, P. postman, P. violacea, P. maliformis? (all in the passiflora passiflora subgenus). Hecale prefers platyloba but feeds on almost any passiflora passiflora.
HELICONIUS DORIS - P. ambigua, P. serrato-digitata and P. laurifolia (which are all in the passiflora passiflora subgenus) P. auriculata and P. vitifolia are also listed on the La Selva website.
HELICONIUS ISMENIUS - P. alata, P. platyloba, P. ambigua, P. quadrangularis, P. maliformis? (which are all in the passiflora passiflora subgenus)
EUEIDES ISABELLA - P. truxillensis, P. platyloba and P. seemanii, P. maliformis? possibly P. caerulea for some instars (all are in the passiflora passiflora subgenus) P. ambigua also listed on the La Selva website.
PHILAETHRIA DIDO - P. talamancensis, P. ambigua, P. edulis and P. vitifolia (all in the passiflora passiflora subgenus?)
HELICONIUS SARA - P. auriculata, P. herbertiana, P. mucronata and P. punctata (which are all in the decaloba subgenus) P. punctata is closely related to P. amalocarpa which can be used for early instars. Sara have to be on their preferred species in the last instar. P. vitifolia also listed on the La Selva website.
HELICONIUS ERATO - P. biflora, P. talamancensis, P. discophora, P. rubra, P. vespertilio, P. coreacea, P. suberosa, P. anfracta, P. amalocarpa, P. misera (all in the decaloba subgenus) H. erato feed on any decaloba, the xerogona species and hybrids are fast growing and easy to take cuttings and grow fast from seed. They lay on P. amalocarpa, when the larvae have eaten it in the last instar. H. erato stem chew in the last instar, which is a real pain on other decaloba.
HELICONIUS CHARITONIUS - P. adenopoda, P. boenderi, P. lobata, P. trifasciata, P. biflora, P. morifolia, P. suberosa, P. amalocarpa, P. misera (all in the decaloba subgenus) P. amalocarpa is the best decaloba, the zebra larvae grow big and a 5 inch adult wingspan is common.
DRYADULA PHAETUSA - P. capsularis, P. citrina, P. conzattiana, P. sanguinolenta, P. rovirosae, P. rubra, P. snowflake, P. adularia, P. hematite, P. biflora, P. lutea, P. tuberosa, P. helleri, P. cuneata MM, P. punctata, P. amalocarpa, P. misera (all in the decaloba subgenus)
DRYAS JULIA - all Passiflora except racemosa
The information above is accurate to the best of my knowledge. However, there are bound to be some errors so please cross reference all data with other reliable sources (see my links directory). I will not take any responsibility for losses incurred due to mistakes in this foodplant list. Please email me if you have any information to add to the list or you can see any mistakes. Many thanks.
Website and photos © Ken Smith 2006