Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)

Also called Zebra Longwings, they are common in south Florida and south Texas. It is a very rare stray in North Carolina however, which has been recorded from several North Carolina counties in the piedmont and coastal plain. Several of these records probably represent escapes from butterfly houses or individuals that arrived as eggs, larvae, or pupae on landscape stock, e.g., from FL. However, some are probably legitimate strays. Either way, this is a stunning butterfly that flies fairly slowly and enjoys nectaring in gardens.
Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius) Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)
Fort Macon, Carteret Co., NC
18 July 2008

Also known as the Zebra Longwing, in July 2008 a colony was discovered at Ft. Macon, NC. As expected, this colony did not survive the winter, but it seems to be well established for that summer as many eggs and caterpillars were found on the Passiflora growing there.

Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius) Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)
Fort Macon, Carteret Co., NC
18 July 2008

Zebra Heliconians have a slow, fluttery flight and are toxic to predators.

Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius) Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)
Fort Macon, Carteret Co., NC
18 July 2008

Nectaring on Frogfruit (Lippia nodiflora).

Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius) Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)
Fort Macon, Carteret Co., NC
18 July 2008

Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius) Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)
Fort Macon, Carteret Co., NC
18 July 2008


Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius) Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)
Fort Macon, Carteret Co., NC
18 July 2008

When preparing to lay eggs, the female flutters around the tip of the caterpillar foodplant (in this case, Yellow Passionflower, Passiflora lutea) and make several "swipes" near the tip of the vine.

Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius) Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)
Fort Macon, Carteret Co., NC
18 July 2008

If the butterfly landed, she proceeded to lay one or two eggs nestled among the vine's growing tip.

Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius) Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)
Fort Macon, Carteret Co., NC
18 July 2008

The eggs are those little yellow-orange spots visible.

Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius) Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)
Fort Macon, Carteret Co., NC
18 July 2008

Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius) Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)
Fort Macon, Carteret Co., NC
18 July 2008

Eggs.

Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius) Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)
Fort Macon, Carteret Co., NC
18 July 2008

Eggs. I don't know if all three of these eggs were laid by the same individual or not.


Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius) Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)
Fort Macon, Carteret Co., NC
18 July 2008

First instar Zebra Heliconian caterpillar.

Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius) Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)
Fort Macon, Carteret Co., NC
18 July 2008

Second or third instar Zebra Heliconian caterpillar.


Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius) Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)
Collier Co., FL
31 Dec 2008

Nectaring on Fire Bush (Hamelia patens).


Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius) Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)
Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)
Fort Macon, Carteret Co., NC
18 July 2008
Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)
Fort Macon, Carteret Co., NC
18 July 2008

Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius) Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)
Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)
Monroe Co., FL
10 Aug 03
Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)
Hidalgo Co., TX
19 Oct 2004

Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius) Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)
Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)
Naples Butterfly House, Collier Co., FL
26 Dec 2013
Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)
Ten Thousand Islands NWR, Collier Co., FL
4 Feb 2015

Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)
Naples Botanical Garden, Collier Co., FL
3 Feb 2016

Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)
Picayune State Forest, Collier Co., FL
19 Sep 2016


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