Though participants in the 2018 Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory (FMEL) volunteer nature stewardship class were looking for mosquito larvae in holes of the great Atlantic land crab (Cardisoma guanhumi) and in native tank bromeliads (Tillandsia sp.), some Lepidoptera — moths and butterflies — attracted attention. A number of zebra longing butterflies (Heliconius charitonia) fluttered about, as they visited the plentiful yellow-green flowers of the copious Florida privets (Forestiera segregata) that line the FMEL mosquito control dikes.
The zebra longing butterfly was named the Florida state butterfly in 1996. A shade-loving butterfly, it is frequently seen at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area. This butterfly is long-lived, as it has the ability to take pollen from plants for protein.
Visit the University of Florida Department of Entomology and Nematology Featured Creatures website to learn more about this beautiful butterfly.