Which is Florida's state butterfly?
The zebra longwing butterfly or zebra is unmistakable with its long narrow wings, which are striped black and pale yellow. This species is common in Mexico and Central America and it is also found in most of Florida and in some areas of Texas, where it can be seen year round. Occasionally it wanders farther north as far as South Carolina, although it is not likely to survive the cold.
After mating the female lays eggs on one of several species of passion flower plants 'Passiflora'. The caterpillars feed on these plants and acquire some of their toxins; this makes them distasteful to predators. The striking colors and pattern of the adults advertise their toxicity. Zebra longwing and other heliconians have a reputation for being very intelligent insects.
They have a social order when roosting; the oldest ones choose the best places. They also gently nudge the others early in the morning to get going. Another interesting characteristic of heliconian butterflies is that they can remember their food sources and return daily to the plants where they fed previously, a behavior known as trap lining. The memory is so strong that if one shrub in their route is cut down they return to the location again and again only to search in vain.