With Florida’s abundant all-year blooms, flurried butterfly activity is a welcome sight on hikes. The most common encounter is the Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charitonius), designated as the official state butterfly of Florida in 1996. No wonder it’s the state butterfly; it’s found throughout Florida in hardwood hammocks, swamps, wetlands, meadows, and in the Everglades. And if you’re keen to plant native, butterfly-friendly plants in your garden, you’ll quickly be visited by these lovelies.
While Longwings can be seen throughout Florida, they’re most abundant in the southern half of the state.
Despite its common presence, it’s always a wonderful sight — bright and bold in our swamps and marshes. As the name suggests, Zebra Longwings sport long, narrow wings, with light yellow and black stripes.
Adults can mate immediately upon emerging from the chrysalis — I once witnessed a few Zebra Longwings crowding a poor lone Longwing, and feared…
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