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This tropical beauty is large, slow, and showy, but it remains close to the warm Gulf and desert states.
Wide, black forewings with big yellow stripes decorate the topside of the Zebra Longwing. The stripes are under the wings as well, though many are white on that side. It is a distinctive member of the Heliconians, and rarely strays farther north than Texas. This butterfly thrives in heat and humidity. Flight is slow and conspicuous, and it can make audible noise when wiggling on a branch. Individuals often fly together and socialize on plants.
The caterpillar feeds on passion vines, or passion flowers. The chemicals in the plant leaves make the caterpillar distasteful to predators. Its white body has black dots, each with a long, black spiky hair extending from it. The 'feet' and lower belly may be orange. Look for adults in thickets and tropical hammocks (stands of trees by a coast) as they forage for nectar and pollen.
Scientific Name: Heliconius charithonia
Other Name(s): Zebra Heliconian
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 72mm to 100mm (2.81in to 3.90in)
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. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.
Butterfly and Moth Anatomy
Antennae: Butterflies and Moths have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
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.