100 mm


5 g


3 months

The zebra longwing is a species of butterfly belonging to the family Nymphalidae. The pattern of white stripes on the black background of their wings warns predators. They sleep at night in groups of up to 60 individuals to protect themselves from predators and to keep warm. 

General characteristics

The caterpillars are white with black spots and are covered with many black spikes all over their bodies. When they reach the adult stage, the wings are black with white and yellow stripes that simulate the pattern of a zebra. In contrast, the wings on the ventral side are similar, but are paler in colour with red spots. 


Caterpillars feed on various types of passionflower, while adult butterflies feed mainly on pollen and nectar. Butterflies that feed on pollen are more unpalatable to predators, and are also more brightly coloured. 


Although it is a sedentary butterfly species, it often migrates in search of cooler climates during the warmer seasons. Rain does not affect migration. The length of stay depends on the distance they have travelled previously, the more distance they have travelled the shorter the stay. 


Male butterflies look for visual, olfactory, tactile and auditory signals from females in order to mate. These butterflies have a memory that allows them to return regularly to the place where they first mated. The host plants of the females emit olfactory signals that allow the males to find them. 


Mass spraying has damaged the population of this butterfly species in Miami County, Florida. Studies need to be done to see the feasibility of recolonisation. Anything that involves altering the habitat of these animals is a threat. 


This butterfly species is found in South America, Central America, the West Indies, Mexico, southern Texas and Florida. Adult individuals sometimes migrate north to New Mexico, South Carolina and Nebraska in the warmer months. This species frequents moist forests, edges or fields. 

Did you know? 

En 1996 se declaró la mariposa oficial del estado de Florida.

During hatching, the ratio is heavily skewed towards females, but the rest of the year the sex ratio is skewed towards males.

Pheromones released by butterflies during courtship reduce the attractiveness of females to prevent other males from wanting to mate with them.

Conservation status