Evidence of pollen digestion at nocturnal aggregations of <i>Heliconius sara</i> in Costa Rica (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae).

  • C. Salcedo
Keywords: Heliconius, nocturnal aggregation, pollen feeding


Several Heliconius butterflies species are known to rely widely on pollen supplied by flowers they visit on a daily basis. Pollen feeding provides a regular supply of amino acids and key nutrients, which are essential for fecundity, de novo synthesis of cyanide glycosides, and increased lifespan. This adaptation has been documented as a diurnal habit that occurs in males and females. Observations in H. sara revealed that only females arrive with pollen loads at dusk to roosting sites in Panama and Costa Rica. Further analysis of pollen samples shows that pollen collected by these females is being digested overnight.