WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY – ENCHANTED FOREST PARK, FL
The photography above is of a Zebra Longwing Butterfly caterpillar that was captured in Enchanted Forest Park located on NE 135th Street in North Miami, Florida. The gear used was a Nikon D90 attached to a Nikkor 60mm 2.8 lens and macro light ring for enhanced illumination.
The Zebra Longwing, or Zebra Heliconian Butterfly, is the Florida State Butterfly.
If you live in Florida, these butterflies and caterpillars are fun to find. Zebra Longwing butterflies lay eggs on passionvine (passion flower) that is growing in the shade. If you do not have passionvine Passiflora (also called passion flower) plants in your yard, you will probably not find eggs or caterpillars. Also, if your yard is bright and sunny, without shade near the area, you probably won’t see Zebra Longwing butterflies in your garden.
Zebra Longwing butterflies lay eggs singly. If few ‘perfect’ tips of passionvine are available, many eggs may be laid on one passionvine tip.
Ingredients to find Zebra Longwing eggs and caterpillars:
1. Passionvine plants
2. Shady area
3. Zebra Longwing adult butterflies
Zebra Longwings prefer shady areas. If you live in a fairly shady area and plant passionvine in your yard in the shade, Zebra Longwings are likely to visit, move in, and deposit eggs.
Check passion vine tips and tendrils for tiny yellow eggs (eggs may darken as the caterpillar develops inside). Small caterpillars are almost translucent. As they grow, they become white with black hairs or spines. They cannot hurt you. Touching one is like petting a hairbrush.
Bright red blooming passion flower plants are not host plants for Zebra Longwing butterflies. Although butterflies may lay eggs upon the plant, they will rarely, if ever, become an adult butterfly. This author has found that Zebra Longwings do have an affinity for red blooming hibiscus as I have many in my yard and also their caterpillars.
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The passion flowers have a unique structure, which in most cases requires a large bee to effectively pollinate. In the American tropics, wooden beams are mounted very near passionfruit plantings to encourage carpenter bees to nest. The size and structure of flowers of other Passiflora species is optimized for pollination by hummingbirds (especially hermits like Phaethornis), bumble bees, wasps or bats, while yet others are self-pollinating..’…