Heliconius ismeniusMargarita Beltrán
Etymology: ISMENOS or Ismenius was a River god of Boiotia, in central Greece (Ismenos). There were two distinct, parallel, traditions about the god of the river Ismenos. The first of these names is the god Ladon, a son of the Boiotian river-god Asopos, and grandson of the like-named Arkadian river Ladon. His streams were later renamed in honour of Ismenos a son of King Amphion of Thebes who was slain by Apollon. The second version names the first god of the river Kaanthos. When Apollon carried off his sister Melia, the Naias of his Ismenian spring, he set fire to the god's Theban temple in retribution. Apollon was furious and shot him dead. In his stead he was succeeded as god of the river by his nephew Ismenos, a son of Apollon and Melia (Ismenos).
The Ismenos River had its headwaters in the western foothills of Mount Kithairon. Flowing east it passed the town of Thebes, before turning north and emptying into Lake Hylika. The stream was fed by a number of famous springs including the Dirke, Strophie and Ismene.
Early stages: Eggs are yellow and approximately 1.3 x 0.8 mm (h x w). Females usually place 1 or 2 eggs under younger leaves and tendrils of the host plant. Mature larvae have a white body with black spots, black scoli, and orange anal plate and head; length is around 2 cm. Caterpillars are solitary. Pupae are brown with 3 gold spots on the dorsum, the thorax is strongly bowed and has five pairs of black spines in the abdomen. The head has short head horns and the antennae have many short black spines (Brown, 1981; DeVries, 1997).
Heliconius ismenius is distributed from Central America to Venezuela and Ecuador. The map below 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. ismenius occurs from sea level to 1,500 m in sunny tall forests. Usually individuals fly rapidly in the middlestory. Individuals collect large loads of pollen from Psiguria and Gurania plants. Females mate multiply. Adults roost solitarily or in small groups at night at 2-10 m above ground on twigs or tendrils, and they are usually found in the subcanopy of the forest along forest edges (Brown, 1981, DeVries, 1997).
Hostplant: H. ismenius larvae feed primarily on plants from the subgenera Granadilla and Distephana (Passifloraceae). In laboratory or insectary experiments they accept Plectostemma (Brown, 1981). In Costa Rica H. ismenius telchinia and H. i. clarescens feed on Passiflora alata, P. pedata, P. ambigua and P. platyloba (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.
Ismenos. Theoi Greek Mythology. http://www.theoi.com/Potamos/PotamosIsmenos.html [Accessed Jul 16, 2008].
Latreille, P. A. [1762_1833] 1817. Insectes de l'Amérique équinoxiale, recueillis pendant le voyage de MM. de Humboldt et Bonpland. Seconde partie. In: Humboldt, A. & A. Bonpland, 1805-1832, Voyage aux régions équinoxiales... Paris, G. Levrault, F. Schoell et Cie. 2(10): 97-138, pls. 35-43.
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University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
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- First online 18 February 2007
- Content changed 12 August 2008
Citing this page:
Beltrán, Margarita. 2008. Heliconius ismenius http://tolweb.org/Heliconius_ismenius/72895/2008.08.12 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/. Version 12 August 2008 (under construction).