H.erato (top) and H. melpomene (bottom); Localities left to right: Zamora, Puyo, Tarapoto, Guayaquil, Yurimaguas
Heliconius erato (above), and H. melpomene (below), a pair of Müllerian mimics from different areas of Ecuador and Northern Peru. Within any area, the two species are extremely accurate mimics of one another, but major geographic differences in colour pattern have evolved within each species. This geographic diversity is extraordinary by temperate zone standards: the area (about 600km x 300km) of the Andean foothills from which all these forms can be found is less than the size of Britain.

© J. Mallet 1999