Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Elusive Zebra Heliconian

They disappeared for more than ten years, the Zebra Longwings. Maybe they were here all the time but I never saw one. There's a gifted photo of a Zebra Longwing on red Pentas beside my bed, giving me a timeline for how long since I saw one. Finally a real one showed up again.

I first saw him on Tithonia with the rest of the horde. Today was the first time I was back quickly enough with a camera to capture him on Blue Porterweed.

He moved so quickly from flower to flower.

Best I could do for clarity and a good angle.
Heliconius charithonia Zebra Heliconian is one of the Brushfoot Butterflies, related to Gulf Fritillaries, who use the same Passiflora host plant; Red Spotted Purples, Common Buckeyes and American Painted Ladies, all commonly seen here.
 From this angle you can't see much of the butterfly but you can see a pattern of
white dots on the hindwing.
This fuzzy pic shows why their common name is Longwing.
State butterfly of Florida, I read some time ago that their numbers were declining. I hope they're coming back in larger numbers than ever. Smaller than most of the swallowtails, but so pretty!
There is a Zebra Swallowtail, same colors, entirely different shape. I haven't seen one of those since the Spring. Lantana blossoms are in short supply after all the rain, maybe soon we'll see both Zebras. 
I read that Zebra Longwings can go from egg to adult in 3 weeks. I hope to see another brood soon.
Are you seeing more butterflies now that summer has peaked?


  1. Living in FL, I see these daily. I love them and there are quite a few. They were sparse after Hurricane Wilma in Oct. 2005, but came back and I was so happy to see them. They are wonderful butterflies.

    Glad you've got them back in your GA gardens ~ FlowerLady

  2. According to this article the zebra longwing rarely even comes up into the Florida panhandle.
    It's been a while since I've seen them up in Middle Georgia... Quite a bit longer than 10 years... I think...
    Hard to photograph somebody that keeps moving....


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