Heliconius Melpomene - The Postman
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Species L. Appalachia
..............................BREEDING HELICONIUS (NYMPHALIDAE) IN A TEMPERATE CLIMATE
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Appalachian eyed brown
Lethe appalachia, known generally as the Appalachian brown or Appalachian eyed brown, is a species of brush-footed butterfly in the family Nymphalidae. It is found in North America.
Appalachian Browns live among the sedgy edges of swamps, creek banks, and other wetland areas. They are virtually always encountered under a shady, closed canopy and within sight of water. This particular niche has only recently been understood, because for many years these butterflies were considered part of another species known as Eyed Browns. In 1947, renowned University of Alabama professor, Ralph L. Chermock, recognized that within this group, a separate, more southern form existed. Full species status was awarded in the 1970s, and the name "Appalachian Brown" was adopted.
In Alabama, Appalachian Browns are known from the Mountains/Piedmont and Upper Plains Regions. However, sightings in Florida indicate that these butterflies should be looked for in the Coastal Region as well.
Butterfly: Wingspan: 4.8 - 5.7 cm. Wings are medium brown in color. Ventral forewing has four eyespots; hindwing has six or seven. White-dotted "pupils" are ringed with yellow, brown, and white, creating a bull's-eye effect. Eyespots vary in size. The upper (dorsal) surface has four less defined spots on the hindwing. The forewing may or may not contain small, indistinct spots.
Identification: Wings are medium brown. Lower side of forewing with the two end eyespots larger than the middle two; spots may not touch. Dark line inside the hindwing row spot is sinuous, not zigzagged. Ventral wings contain eyespots with "pupils" that are ringed with yellow, brown, and white, creating a bull's-eye effect.
Flight: One brood from July-September in the north, two broods from June-October in the south.
Egg: Greenish white. Laid singly on or near host plant.
Caterpillar: Light green with narrow yellow or white stripes, two short red-tipped tails on the rear and two reddish horns on the head. Very slender. Chews distinct squared indentations on host leaf. The caterpillar is the overwintering stage. Caterpillars feed on leaves at night and hide at the base of the plant during the day. Third- and fourth-stage caterpillars hibernate. Caterpillar Hosts: Sedge (Carex lacustris) and giant sedge (Rhynchospora inundata) in the sedge family (Cyperaceae).