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Zebra Longwing Butterfly

Florida State Butterfly

Zebra longwing butterfly photo by Patricia M. Ciesla, Forest Health Management International, zebra longwing (noncommercial use permitted with attribution).

Official State Butterfly of Florida

Florida designated the zebra longwing butterfly (Heliconius charitonius) as the official state butterfly in 1996. All State Insects

The zebra longwing butterfly is found throughout Florida in hardwood hammocks, thickets, gardens, and particularly in the Everglades National Park. The zebra longwing butterfly is characterized by long black wings with distinctive thin stripes and a slow, graceful flight. It makes a creaking sound when alarmed. Zebra longwings feed on nectar and pollen. They are the only butterflies known to eat pollen, which is probably why they have a long lifespan (about six months, as compared to a more usual one month for other butterfly species).

The zebra longwing butterfly lays its eggs on passion vine leaves. Passion vines contain toxins that are consumed by the caterpillars, which make the adult butterflies poisonous to predators.