Taken at the Cockrell Butterfly Exhibit. Houston Museum of Natural Science.
Heliconius charithonia,12 commonly known as the Zebra Longwing or Zebra Heliconian, is a species of butterfly belonging to the subfamily Heliconiinae of the Nymphalidae. It was declared the official butterfly for the state of Florida in the United States in 1996.
The butterfly ranges over parts of North, Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean.2 In North America the butterfly is found in the southern parts of the United States including Florida, Georgia, Virginia, North and South Carolina.1 In South and Central America, it has been recorded in Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela.12
 Life history
The caterpillar feeds on Yellow Passionflower (Passiflora lutea), Corky-stemmed Passionflower (Passiflora suberosa), and Two-flower Passionflower (Passiflora biflora). The adults are unusual among butterflies in that they eat pollen as well as sip nectar. This ability contributes to their longevity—3 months as an adult.3 Because of their relatively long lifespan and their activity throughout the day, this is a popular species with butterfly houses. Another unusual feature is that adults roost in groups of up to 70, and return to the same roost each evening.
 Taxonomic note
In some publications the butterfly is referred to as Heliconius charitonius, but this is either a lapsus calami or unjustified emmendation of the original name given by Linnaeus in 1767, Papilio charithonia. Cramer in 1777 was apparently the first to publish this incorrect name. Godman & Salvin in 1901 referred to the species as H. charithonie [sic].