Butterflies

Zebra Longwing Butterflies are insects, belonging to the order Lepidoptera and known for the beautiful colors and patterns of their wings. Many conspicuously patterned species, like Monarchs, are distasteful to birds. Adult butterflies feed on nectar from flowers. They may transfer pollen from one flower to another, many plants bees and butterflies for pollination.
Butterflies can be distinguished from moths in several ways. The body of a butterfly is more slender and usually smoother than that of a moth. Butterflies are active by day, while most moths are nocturnal. The antennae of butterflies are knobbed at the tips, while those of moths almost never have terminal knobs and are often feathery.

New Fritillary This Gulf Fritillary has just emerged and is entering the adult stage. Butterflies go through 4 life stages. Egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis), and adult. The eggs, which hatch in 2 to 30 days, are usually laid on a specific host plant that the caterpillar uses for food. For example the Monarch's host plant is milkweed, while the zebra longwing lays eggs on passion vine. Most caterpillars eat the leaves of the host. After the last of several molts the larva is transformed into a pupa with a hard, often sculptured outer integument, within which it changes to the adult form. The butterfly pupa is called a chrysalis.

Tiger Swallowtail The Tiger Swallowtail is truly spectacular. One of the largest of our native Florida butterflies, the Tiger can be as large as 5 inches across. This flying flower is easily recognizable by its large size and distinctive yellow color and black stripes. As caterpillars, their colors look like bird droppings. Host plants for the Tiger are Spicebush and American Elm. They are amazing to watch grow and mature.



Greater SulfurThis young Cloudless Sulfur has also recently eclosed, and is resting, drying her wings before flying free. Butterflies' lives are short averaging two weeks, although some may live for several months. The Copper Butterfly (not found in Florida) may live only a few days. Monarch butterflies hatching in the fall migrate south as the days get shorter and northward in spring. Adult monarchs may survive for 8-9 months or longer. This sulfur will live about 2 weeks.
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