The Tiger Longwing Butterfly (Heliconius hecale) is an heliconiid insect – in the family of brush-footed butterflies. It is also known as the Golden Longwing or the Golden Heliconian.
The Tiger Longwing has black wings with bright orange patches emanating from its body. It has white spotted lines on the edges of its wings. Its body is black.
It measures 6-8 centimetres (2-3 inches) long.
The Tiger Longwing is native to the southern United States of America, Mexico, and south to the Peruvian Amazon. It prefers tropical and sub-tropical regions.
The caterpillar (larvae stage) eats the leaves of passion flower vines. The adult butterfly sips nectar from flowers, using its proboscis – a nose-like tongue.
The female Tiger Longwing lays eggs on plant leaves. The eggs hatch into caterpillars, which pupate and metamorphose. The pupa becomes a chrysalis, like a cocoon. The adult butterfly emerges from the chrysalis.
It lives, on average, for 20 days.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
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