Facts about Zebra Longwing Butterfly, "Scientific name for Zebra Longwing Butterfly Heliconius charithonia" Zebra Longwing Butterfly is a species of butterfly belonging to the family Nymphalidae, subfamily Heliconiinae. Also known as Zebra Heliconian, the butterfly has aposematic wing pattern of black and white stripes that warns off predators. The Zebra Longwing Butterfly are common in South and Central America, southern Texas, and peninsular Florida. They migrate north into other North American states in the warmer months.
Adults Zebra Longwing Butterfly have long wings with wingspan ranging from 72 to 100 mm. The wings are black with narrow yellow and white stripes on the dorsal side, but paler with a similar pattern with red spots on the ventral side. The caterpillar is white with black spots and has numerous black spikes along its body
Adult Zebra Longwing Butterfly roost communally at night in groups of up to 60 for safety from predators. Roosting usually begins about three hours before sunset and ends within two hours after sunrise. The adult Zebra Longwing Butterfly are able to see at low light levels and locate roost sites. This ability helps the Zebra Longwing Butterfly to search for and find conspecifics that are already roosting and to land on twigs, tendrils, or dry leaves to start roosting. Adults are also able to recognize color patterns in conspecifics. At shorter distances, the butterfly uses chemical cues to recognize conspecifics
Zebra Longwing Butterfly adult is unusual among other species of butterfly in that it eats pollen as well as sips nectar. This ability contributes to its longevity—it can live up to 6 months as an adult. Pollen enables it to synthesize cyanogenic glycosides, which help make its body toxic to potential predators. The behavior of pollen feeding facilitated the evolution of mimicry and aposematism. Zebra Longwing Butterfly that feed on pollen are more brightly colored, show superior mimetic diversity, and are more distasteful to predators.
Zebra Longwing caterpillar feeds on various species of Passionflower. They evade the plants' defensive trichomes by laying silk mats over them or biting them off. The species of Passionflower that the caterpillars feed on include Yellow Passionflower, Two-flower Passionflower, and Corky-stemmed Passionflower.
Male Zebra Longwing Butterfly seek visual, tactile, olfactory and auditory cues from the females during mating. Certain host plants provide these cues to the Zebra Longwing butterfly males, thereby influencing the location and time of reproduction. This happens because as the larvae damage the plant upon eating it, six carbon alcohols, green-leaf volatiles, acetates, and aldehydes, are released. They give olfactory cues to the males, thereby indicating the location of the mate (pupae). Since the camouflaged pupae lack strong sexual pheromones, a male Zebra Longwing Butterfly relies on the olfactory cue from the damaged plant to find a mate. The odors also trigger male Zebra Longwing Butterfly to learn the location of the plant for future copulation. The Zebra Longwing Butterfly spatial memory is good enough to enable them to return regularly to mating and roosts sites.
Zebra Longwing butterflies are found in South and Central America, Mexico, South Texas, theWest Indies, and peninsular Florida. Adult butterflies sometimes migrate north to south Carolina, Nebraska, and, New Mexico during the warmer months. Zebra Longwing butterfly was declared the official butterfly for the state of Florida in the United States in 1996. They frequent moist forests, tropical hammocks, edges, or fields. Zebra Longwing Butterfly are insects. A Zebra Longwing Butterfly is a herbivore; Meaning that as a caterpillar its first food is its own eggshell and than it will eat the leaves of the plant on which it is hatched. When it becomes a Zebra Longwing Butterfly, it will feed mostly on nectar from flowers, rotting fruit and water with a "proboscis" - a long narrow tube in their mouth that looks like a straw.
Life cycle of a Zebra Longwing Butterfly comes in four stages, egg, larva "caterpillars", pupa "chrysalis" and adult Butterfly.
A Zebra Longwing Butterfly will attach its eggs to leaves with a special glue.
When caterpillars become fully grown they will attach to an appropriate leaf or small branch, than they will shed the outside layer of their skin and a hard skin underneath known as a "chrysalis" will be their new look
An adult Zebra Longwing Butterfly will come out from the "chrysalis" than it waits a few hours for its wings to dry and fill with blood, before it takes its first flight.
Zebra Longwing Butterfly can see yellow, green, and red. An adult butterfly average life span is from a week to a year
The top flight speed of a butterfly is 12 miles per hour and some moths can fly up to 25 miles per hour.
A Zebra Longwing Butterfly is cold-blooded, which means the body temperature is not regulated on its own. A Butterfly can't fly or eat if their body temperature is below 82 degrees fah (28 cel). Butterfly's are often basking in the sun with their wings open to gain heat and than the veins in the wings carry the heat to the body.
A Butterfly has sense organ, on their feet or tarsi, for tasting
The estimate is between 15000 and 20000 different species of butterfly.
A Zebra Longwing Butterfly has a small body, made up of three parts – the head, abdomen and thorax. A Butterfly has two large eyes, which are made up of many small parts which are called "compound eyes".
A Zebra Longwing Butterfly has two antenna's on the top of their heads, which they use to smell, hear and feel. A butterfly’s mouth is a long tube a "proboscis" - a long narrow tube in their mouth that looks like a straw when its done eating, it rolls the tube back up.
A Zebra Longwing Butterfly has three pairs of legs and their feet have little claws that help them stand on flowers. The Zebra Longwing Butterfly wings are made up of hard tubes that are covered with a thin tissue. The butterfly's wings are covered with fine dusty like scales. A Zebra Longwing Butterfly has four brightly colored wings having distinctive patterns made up of tiny scales. The bright patterns scales sometimes have hidden ultraviolet patterns for attracting mates. The bright colors are also used as camouflage to hide them or scare off predictors.