|Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly - Speyeria cybele |
Family Nymphalidae / Subfamily Heliconiinae (Longwings and Fritillaries)
Live adult butterflies photographed at Des Plaines and Winfield, Illinois, USA .
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|Subfamily Heliconiinae can be divided into 45-50 genera and were sometimes treated as a separate family Heliconiidae within the Papilionoidea. |
Most longwings are found in the Tropics, particularly in South America; only the Argynnini are quite diverse in the Holarctic. Especially tropical species feed on poisonous plants, characteristically Passifloraceae vines, as larvae, becoming poisonous themselves. The adult butterflies announce their acquired toxicity with strong aposematic colors, warning off would-be predators. There are several famous cases of Batesian and Müllerian mimicry both within this group and with other butterflies. Other commonly-seen foodplants are Fabaceae (which also contain several toxic species), and particularly among northernly species Violaceae.
Learn to identify many of the American Midwest's common species through descriptions and large diagnostic photos of live, wild specimens.
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