Zebra Longwing Butterfly

The Zebra Longwing Butterfly is small but bad tasting. Their wings are camouflaged to make it hard to catch.

Zebra longwing butterfly

The Zebra Longwing Butterfly has long narrow wings. The wings are black with light yellow zebra like stripes. Its yellow stripes make it hard to tell if it is going or coming.

Found in the southern United States from Texas to Florida. It is also found in Central America and northern South America.

The zebra longwing butterfly caterpillars eat the leaves of passion flowers. The passion flower contains a toxin that gives the zebra longwing butterfly an unpleasant taste and makes it poisonous to predators. The butterfly drinks the nectar of a wide range of flowers.

The zebra longwing butterfly begins mating right after it emerges from its chrysalis. The female lays five to fifteen eggs on the leaves of passion flower vines. The caterpillar has a white body with long black spines and a yellow head. If weather conditions are right, the zebra longwing butterfly can go from egg to butterfly in a little over three weeks. When an adult emerges it hangs upside down then pumps blood into its 4 wings. It then waits for its delicate wings to dry. It will fly a few hours later.

 When disturbed the zebra longwing butterfly makes a creaking sound by wiggling its body. At night, large groups will roost together on tree limbs. They return to the same roost night after night. Adults have a wingspan range of 72 to 100 mm. The sexes are similar. The upper surface of the wings is black with several bold, narrow yellow stripes. The wings below have a similar pattern, but are paler in color and have several small red spots near the body.

The zebra longwing produces multiple generations each year. Adults have a slow relaxed flight. Females lay the small yellow eggs singly or in small clusters on terminal leaves and tendrils of the host plants.

The Zebra Longwing Butterfly was declared the official butterfly for the state of Florida in 1996. It is found throughout Florida in hardwood hammocks, thickets, gardens, and particularly in the Everglades National Park.

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