Zebra Longwing on Purple by Lisa G. Putman

Zebra Heliconian ~ Heliconius charithonia (Linnaeus, 1767)

Family: Brush-footed Butterflies (Nymphalidae)

Subfamily: Longwings (Heliconiinae)

Identification: Wings long and narrow; black with narrow yellow stripes.

Life history: Males patrol for females, and are also attracted to female chrysalids. A male will wait on the chrysalis and mate with the female as she is about to emerge. He then deposits on her abdomen a chemical than repels other males. Eggs are laid in groups of 5-15 on leaf buds or leaves of the host plant; caterpillars feed at night on leaves. Adults roost communally in groups of 25-30 individuals.

Flight: All year in South Texas and southern Florida, wanders north during warmer months.

Wing span: 2 3/4 – 4 inches (7 – 10.1 cm).

Caterpillar hosts: Passion-vines including Passiflora suberosa, P. lutea, and P. affinis.

Adult food: Flower nectar and pollen, which are gathered on a set foraging route or “trap-line”. Favorite plants include lantana and shepherd’s needle.

Habitat: Tropical hammocks, moist forests, edges, fields.

Range: South America north through Central America, West Indies, and Mexico to South Texas and peninsular Florida. Occasional immigrant north to New Mexico, Nebraska, and South Carolina.

Conservation: Not usually required, but habitat for permanent populations is limited in South Texas.

NatureServe Global Status: G5 – Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.


  • KSkinner
    KSkinnerabout 6 years ago

    Stunning shot!

  • Digitalbcon
    Digitalbconabout 6 years ago

    Beautiful capture and I really like the angle on this shot!!

  • kalaryder
    kalaryderabout 6 years ago

    Gorgeous butterfly

  • Auntymazza
    Auntymazzaabout 6 years ago

    Such a wonderful capture

  • Steve Chapple
    Steve Chappleabout 6 years ago

    Outstanding detail and colours.

  • lorilee
    lorileeabout 6 years ago

    Very pretty!!!!!

  • robsta5
    robsta5about 6 years ago

    wow!!! amazing shot lisa, great capture of a truly stunning creature.
    the colours are great, well done.

  • Brenda Sikes
    Brenda Sikesabout 6 years ago

    Gorgeous, Lisa! Stunning vivid colors and I love the composition and detais!

  • Rajdev73
    Rajdev73about 6 years ago

    Awesome Shot!

  • Steven  Siow
    Steven Siowabout 6 years ago

    This is super. Instant fav.

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