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The Zebra Longwing Butterfly

Updated on July 15, 2011

The Zebra Longwing

This butterfly, the Zebra Longwing has some rather interesting characteristics. Zebra longwings live in Peru up through the southern United States. It is from the group Heliconius, but differs from others in that group because it doesn't feed on pollen. The result is that it does not live as long as the postman butterfly, for instance.

One of the benefits that the Zebra Longwing has over other species is that its young can feed on host plants that are normally poisonous to the larvae of many butterflies. An adult Zebra Longwing can migrate for approximately 200 miles, but up to 500 miles! The flight is slow and dreamy.

The size of a Zebra Longwing is about 3 and 3/4 inches.  It is wide and longer in shape.  The adults love flower nectar.  Other names are Heliconius charitonia, and H. charitonius.

Zebra Longwing, Heliconius charitonia

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Some interesting behaviors of the Zebra Longwing

You may have heard about how butterflies can "roost" together, or stay in groups on occasion.  This species roosts together with about 70 other Zebra Longwings.  I think that would be so great to see.  They will travel together and take rests together. 

One thing that stands out, is that the male Zebra Longwing mates with the female before she has emerged from the pupa casing.  The male then adds what is called a "repellent pheromone" so that it repels other males from trying to mate.  He applies the repellent to what has been called her "stink clubs."  I had never heard of that before, and thought it odd but interesting.  Nature, truly never ceases to amaze me. 

Side view of the Zebra Longwing

Zebra Longwings,found from Peru through the Southern US

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    • profile image

      butterflyhouse 6 years ago

      Love all your blogs!

    • oceansnsunsets profile image
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      Paula 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Butterflyhouse, thank you very much!

    • PhoenixV profile image

      PhoenixV 6 years ago from USA

      Great Hub! Excellent Photos..as usual lol

    • oceansnsunsets profile image
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      Paula 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Thank you very much Phoenix!

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