The Zebra Longwing Butterfly (Heliconius charithonia) is an insect belonging to the Nymphalidae family.
The Zebra Longwing Butterfly has elongated black wings with white and yellow stripes. Its underside is paler with red spots. It has several black spikes along its body.
It is a medium-sized butterfly with a wingspan of 7-10 centimetres (3-4 inches) long.
The Zebra Longwing Butterfly is native to South America and Central America, and into Texas and Florida in Northern America. It migrates north to America during the winter.
Caterpillars feed on plant leaves. The adult butterfly feeds on pollen and nectar from flowers. Most butterflies do not feed on pollen. Feeding on pollen makes them distasteful to their predators. Predators know that they taste awful and tend to leave them alone.
It is a communal butterfly, living in groups of up to 60 adults for protection from predators.
The average lifespan of the Zebra Longwing Butterfly is 4-5 months.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM