Under Construction

Heliconius astraea Staudinger 1897

Andrew V. Z. Brower and Margarita Beltrán
Containing group: Heliconius


An Amazonian Heliconius species belonging to the H. egeria group and exhibiting the common red-and-yellow "dennis/ray" mimetic wing pattern.

Etymology: Astraea is the star-maiden, daughter of Zeus and Themis. She was, as was her mother, a goddess of justice. During the Golden Age, when the gods dwelled among mankind, she lived on the earth. When evil and wickedness increased its grip on humanity, the gods abandoned the habitations of mankind. Astraea was the last to leave and took up her abode among the stars where she was transformed into the constellation Virgo (Astraea).


Early stages:  Eggs are cream and approximately 1.2 x 0.9 mm (h x w). Females usually place 1 to 3 eggs on growing shoots of the host plant. Mature larvae have an orange body with black spots, with black scoli and head, length is around 2 cm. Caterpillars are gregarious. (Brown, 1981).


H. astraea occurs from sea level to 1,300 m in the forest canopy.  Usually individuals fly rapidly and in the canopy. Females mate multiply and adults roost solitarily at night 2-10 m above the ground on twigs or tendrils.

Host plant: H. astraea  larvae feed primarily on plants from the genus Passiflora, subgenus Distephana (Brown, 1981).

Geographical distribution

Heliconius astraea is distributed from Brazil to Peru. 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

Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window

Distribution of Heliconius egeria and Heliconius astraea. © 2002 Margarita Beltrán

Geographical Races

Two minor geographical races have been described:


"Astraea." Encyclopedia Mythica from Encyclopedia Mythica Online. http://www.pantheon.org/articles/a/astraea.html [Accessed May 22, 2008].

Brown K. S. 1981 The Biology of Heliconius and Related Genera. Annual Review of Entomology 26, 427-456.

Brown, K. S., Jr. 1973 The heliconians of Brazil (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Part V. Three new subspecies from Mato Grosso and Rondônia. Bull. Allyn Mus. 13, 1-19.

Staudinger, O. 1897 Neue Heliconius-Arten und Formen. Deutsches Ent. Zeit. Iris 9, 284-317, 2 plates.

About This Page

Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, USA

University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Andrew V. Z. Brower at and Margarita Beltrán at

Page: Tree of Life Heliconius astraea Staudinger 1897. Authored by Andrew V. Z. Brower and Margarita Beltrán. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.

Citing this page:

Brower, Andrew V. Z. and Margarita Beltrán. 2008. Heliconius astraea Staudinger 1897. Version 13 August 2008 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Heliconius_astraea/72912/2008.08.13 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

edit this page
close box

This page is a Tree of Life Leaf Page.

Each ToL leaf page provides a synopsis of the characteristics of a group of organisms representing a leaf at the tip of the Tree of Life. The major distinction between a leaf and a branch of the Tree of Life is that a leaf cannot generally be further subdivided into subgroups representing distinct genetic lineages.

For a more detailed explanation of the different ToL page types, have a look at the Structure of the Tree of Life page.

close box

Heliconius astraea

Page Content

articles & notes



Explore Other Groups

random page

  go to the Tree of Life home page