The Zebra Longwing, Heliconius charitonia

Zebra Longwing

The Zebra Longwing is named after its wing pattern of alternating yellowish-white and black stripes. The ventral surface is similar, with several red patches next to the body. Males and females look similar, and their wing span is 7 – 10 cm.

The Zebra Longwing is widely distributed from Florida and the southern-most US through Central America and South America. Adults frequent forest edges, open areas, and urban gardens, and feed on both pollen and nectar. Their flight is slow and erratic.

The Zebra Longwing reproduces by pupal mating: males seek out female pupa a few days before emergence, sit on the pupa, and wait for the female to emerge. He then mates with her, sometimes before she is even fully emerged. Adults roost together at night in large groups close to the ground. Caterpillars are white with black spots and spines, and they feed on passion vine (Passifloraceae).

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