Karen Schuster (Class of 2009) took this fabulous photograph of a marvelous male julia butterfly (Dryas iulia largo) at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area. Males are more brightly colored than females, and females have a complete black band near the tips of their forewings.
Like of state butterfly, the zebra longwing (Heliconius charitonius tuckeri), julia butterflies are members of the Nymphalidae (brush-footed) family, have long, wide wings, and use corky-stemmed passionflower (Passiflora suberosa) as their larval food. Julia butterflies are far less common than zebra longwings, and like the related gulf fritillary (Agraulis vanilla nigrior), favor sunnier places than zebra longwings. With each year of warm weather, julia butterflies seem to have become more abundant.
Karen also photographed a julia nectaring on wild coffee (Psychotria nervosa), a nectar and pollen source also favored by zebra longwings.
The first time that I saw a julia at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area was more than five years ago along Olso Road nectaring on tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica), a weedy non-native milkweed, along with a monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus).
Click here to see a dramatic youtube video of the pupation & emergence of a julia butterfly. Note that the passionflower vine shown likely is fetid passionflower (Passiflora foetida), which is not native to Florida.