Butterflies – Small Postman – Heliconius erato
(perhaps subspecies petiverano)
Photographed at the Carleton University “Live” Butterfly exhibit in the Fall of 2010. (Location)
A small butterfly, the Small Postmen is commonly found in Central America and South America and occasionally as far north as Texas. It is a member of the sub-family Heliconiinae of the family Nymphalidae. The Erato longwings are also known as the Red Postman, and the Small Postman Longwing. This butterfly favors the Passiflora family of flowers (Passion Vines) and eats not only the nectar but also the pollen of this family of flowers.
I think that the above photo is of the subspecies Heliconius erato petiverano which is referred to as the Crimson-patched Longwing in Costa Rica. Size is generally about 7 cm.
The Heliconius erato are not poisonous but their colour and habits mimic the Heliconius melpomene which is poisonous or distasteful to predators.