Butterflies – Cydno Longwing – Heliconius cydno
Photographed at the Butterfly exhibit in the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2011.
The Cydno Longwing occurs naturally in Central America south to the northern reaches of Venezuela and along the west coast of South America to areas of Ecuador. As is the case with many other longwings, the larvae of the Cydno Longwing will incorporate chemicals from some of the plants that it consumes such as the Passiflora sp. and render the adult form of the butterfly somewhat less palatable to its potential predators. A number of the longwings which share this charactersitic also share similar colorations. This form of mimicry where two or more species share similar warning colorations to alert predators that they are not palatable is referred to as Mullerian mimicry. Another fairly common form of mimicry is referred to as Batesian mimicry and involves a non-toxic prey species mimicing a toxic species. The relationship between the Viceroy Butterfly and the Monarch butterfly is a good example of Batesian mimicry. In the case of the the many orange and black colored Longwings, it is suspected that both Mullerian and Batesian mimicry may be in play.