Sun, Apr 12, 2009 at 6:29 PM
My wife and I just got back from Wild Animal Park in Escondido, CA where they have the “Butterfly Jungle” exhibit. We got tons of pictures, but I wanted to get this to you as quick as possible. I forgot to take a picture of the butterfly “legend” so I don’t know what kind of butterfly this is. You can see that the male and female have different wing markings. Enjoy!
Bob K – Bug shooter
Wild Animal Park in Escondido, CA
We believe this is Heliconius erato based on images submitted to BugGuide from various butterfly exhibits from around the country. There are relatively strict guidelines on species selection for butterfly pavilions in order to prevent the introduction of exotic species to new habitats. We believe that either local species or those that can pose no threat if they accidentally escape are the only acceptable species. According to Wikipedia, this butterfly is also known as the Red Postman, the Small Postman, the Red Passion Flower Butterfly, or the Crimson-Patched Longwing. It is native to Central and South America and there are occasional strays to Texas according to BugGuide. We also located a nice webpage devoted to Heliconius erato that shows numerous color variations. Since the caterpillars feed on passion flower vine, it is probably an easy species to raise in warmer states where the food plant is an invasive species.