Zebra Butterfly

Zebra Butterfly publicbroadcasting.net

The Zebra Butterfly has aptly been named so since they exhibit bold patterns alternating in black and white, a characteristic which is bound to remind the watcher of a zebra’s coat design. These are monomorphic butterflies, of medium size, and has a relatively longer life cycle. They are mostly found in the sunny days in the warm, tropical areas.

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Nymphalidae
  • Genus: Heliconius
  • Common names: Zebra longwing,  zebra heliconian, zebra winged butterfly
  • Scientific Name: Heliconius charithonia

Zebra Longwing Butterfly Description & Identification

Caterpillar

Zebra Butterfly Caterpillar fs.fed.us

The caterpillars are purely white with black dotted spots with frequent black spikes throughout the central part of the body. The head is yellow.

Pupa

Zebra Butterfly Chrysalis jaxshells.org

Zebra Butterfly Cocoon bugguide.net

Chrysalis is light brown to dull yellow and has a typical way of camouflaging. The nymphs hang in their cocoon in such a way that they perfectly resemble dry, yellow leaves hanging from the branches.

Adult Butterfly

Sexual Dimorphism: Both the sexes look alike.

Color and Appearance: The hind wings are very narrow that have given them a sleek look. The patterns on both the sides of the four wings of the adults are simple with long lines. The wings are jet black at the base having narrow white and yellow stripes. However, the markings on the ventral side are paler and have red spots.

Heliconius Charithonia naba.org

Zebra Butterflies costafarms.com

Average wingspan: 72 to 100 mm

Flight pattern: Quick and erratic (said to be ‘dancing’ pattern unique to the species)

Eggs

Zebra Butterfly Eggs jaxshells.org

Light yellow in color, laid one at a time or in small clusters of 5 to 15.

Quick Facts

Distribution Throughout Central and South America, as well as southern Texas and peninsular Florida in the United States; migrates further north during summer
Habitat They live in moist forests, tropical hammocks, edges, and fields
Lifespan of adults Up to six months
Host plants Leaves of various passionflower species
Adult diet Pollen and flower nectar from mostly passionflowers

Did You Know?

  • The bold coloration on the wings is an adaptation termed as ‘aposematic,’ i.e., a warning signal to the predators to stay away.
  • At night, these creatures roost communally in small to big groups of up to 60 adults to ensure safety from predators.
  • The zebra butterflies consume pollen grains from flowers, which helps them synthesize specific chemical compounds called ‘cyanogenic glycosides’ that make their body toxic to their enemies.
  • In 1996, the zebra butterfly was declared the official butterfly of the US state of Florida.

Zebra Butterfly Host Plant jacksonville.com

Zebra Longwing Butterfly animalphotos.me

Zebra Winged Butterfly nhptv.org

Zebra Butterfly Images commons.wikimedia.org

Zebra Butterfly Pictures pixfeeds.com

Zebra Heliconian greglasley.com

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Scientific Classification

  • Family: Nymphalidae
  • Genus: Heliconius
  • Common names: Zebra longwing,  zebra heliconian, zebra winged butterfly
  • Scientific Name: Heliconius charithonia