Etymology: Hecale was a priestess of Zeus in Athens. She had offered to sacrifice to Zeus if Theseus would come back safe after meeting the Marathonian Bull, but she died before Theseus' return (Hecale).
H. hecale occurs from sea level to 1,400 m in tall forests. Usually individuals fly rapidly in the canopy and erratically in the lowerstory. Females mate multiply and adults roost solitarily or in loose groups at night at 2-10 m above ground on twigs or tendrils.
Hostplant: H. hecale larvae feed primarily on plants from the subgenera Granadilla and Distephana (Passifloraceae), as a secondary source H. hecale use Astrophea and in laboratory conditions they accept Dysosmia (Passifloraceae) (Brown, 1981). In Panama H. hecale most commonly feeds on Passiflora vitifolia (C. Jiggins, pers obs.)
Early stages: Eggs are yellow and approximately 1.9 x 0.9 mm (h x w). Females usually place eggs singly on growing shoots and tendrils of the host plant. Mature larvae have a white body with black scoli, orange head, and all spines, spiracles and dots in the dorsum are black; length is around 1.8 cm. Caterpillars are gregarious in small numbers (Brown, 1981). Pupae are brown with three gold spots on the dorsum, the thorax is strongly bowed and have five pairs of black spines in the abdomen. The head has short head horns and the antennae have many short black spines (DeVries, 1997).
Heliconius hecale is distributed from Central America to the Amazon. 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.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Heliconius hecale
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Heliconius hecale
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
- H. h. anderida Hewitson, 
- H. h. annetta Riffarth, 1900
- H. h. australis Brown, 1976
- H. h. barcanti Brown, 1976
- H. h. clearei Hall, 1930
- H. h. discomaculatus Weymer, 1891
- H. h. ennius Weymer, 1891
- H. h. felix Weymer, 1894
- H. h. fornarina Hewitson, 
- H. h. hecale (Fabricius, 1775)
- H. h. holcophorus Staudinger, 
- H. h. humboldti Neustetter, 1928
- H. h. ithaca C. & R. Felder, 1862
- H. h. latus Riffarth, 1900
- H. h. melicerta Bates, 1866
- H. h. metellus Weymer, 1894
- H. h. naxos Neukirchen, 1998
- H. h. nigrofasciatus Weymer, 1894
- H. h. novatus Bates, 1867
- H. h. paraensis Riffarth, 1900
- H. h. paulus Neukirchen, 1998
- H. h. quitalena Hewitson, 
- H. h. rosalesi Brown & Fernández, 1976
- H. h. sisyphus Salvin, 1871
- H. h. shanki Lamas & Brown, 1976
- H. h. sulphureus Weymer, 1894
- H. h. vetustus Butler, 1873
- H. h. zeus Neukirchen, 1995
- H. h. zuleika Hewitson, 1854
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