A common sight in moist, tropical environments, the Zebra Longwing Butterfly can be found in that kind of habitat all year round. It is highly identifiable by the white-on-black coloring when fully developed. Some stripes may be pale yellow while others are white, but all species have that zebra-like pattern on the tops and bottoms of their wings. A few, small red spots near the body of the butterfly can be seen on both sides of the forewings. Its forelegs are considerably shorter than its back legs as is the case with all members of the Brush-Footed Butterfly family. Active throughout the day, Zebra Butterflies band together at night in large groups.
The caterpillar is a gray or white with black dots that grow a black spiky hair from it. The 'feet' and lower belly may be orange. It feeds on the leaves of the passion vine plant which contains noxious chemicals that the caterpillar retains in its body throughout adulthood. This makes both the caterpillar and adult unsavory meals for most predators.
This butterfly is a distinctive member of the Heliconians, and rarely strays farther north than Texas because it thrives in heat and humidity. Flight is slow and conspicuous, and it can make audible noise when wiggling on a branch. Look for individuals and social groupings in thickets and tropical hammocks (stands of trees by a coast) as they forage for nectar and pollen.
General Characteristics Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns.
Territorial Map U.S., Canada, and Mexico
Prince Edward Is.
Butterfly and Moth Anatomy
Antennae: Butterflies and Moths have a pair of antennae on the head used for sensing.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and proboscis.
Thorax: Home to the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Abdomen: Contains vital internal organs such as the heart(s) and reproduction facilities.
Forewing: The upper, forward wing pair used for flying.
Hindwing: The lower, rearward wing pair used for flying.
NOTE: Butterflies and Moths are part of the Lepidopteran order as they share many similarities.