The zebra longwing is the official Florida state butterfly and can be found throughout the Florida peninsula, mostly in hammocks and along the edges of forested rivers and streams. The range includes the West Indies, south Texas, Mexico and Central America.
Heliconius charitonius has a wingspan of from 72mm to 100mm (about 3-4 inches). The forewings are long and narrow, jet black above with three yellow bands. The hindwings have one yellow band and a row of yellow spots. The undersides of the wings are paler, with red spots at the base.
The larvae are a white caterpillar with rows of white dots and six rows of black spines and feed exclusively on passionflower vines.
The adult butterflies can be seen feeding on numerous wildflowers including firebush and beggarticks. Zebra longwings are unusual among butterflies in that they feed on both nectar and pollen. The pollen improves their health and longevity, promotes egg production and makes them distasteful to predators. Several of the photos here show pollen collected on the proboscis.
Heliconius charithonius is a member of the Nymphalidae - Brush-footed butterflies family.
For more information on this species, visit the following link:
Bugguide.net info page for this species
Date record last modified: Apr 25, 2020