What’s going on back there under the passionvine foliage? Look closely…there are two Zebra Longwing Butterflies all a flutter, and a chrysalis. We’ll come back to that after some fun context.
Florida may claim it as our state butterfly, but so could Caribbean Islands and nations all the way into South America. The Zebras need passionvines for their hungry caterpillars, so I’ll guess without data that the butterfly’s range is related to that of the genus Passiflora. My wife Donna and I have several species of passionvines in our butterfly garden where experience shows the Longwings have their preferred species, such as Corkystem. When the caterpillars get on a bender along with Gulf Fritillaries, they can make short work of passion-foliage. I’ve never seen this written anywhere, but to my eye, these colorful butterflies darken into shadows in the shade, which they like to haunt. Butterflies come to flowers for nectar, right? Yes, but how many eat pollen? Today’s friend does.
Now for the main points.
1. The chrysalis is camouflaged like a dead leaf. Cool.
2. For the most part, an inverted male fertilizes the female while she is still inside the chrysalis, as in the photo below.
3. Sometimes two males hop on the same female chrysalis. A female can be inseminated by more than one male, yet the two males jostle and flutter for “dibs.”