Butterflies_1

The Butterflies 1 page contains 61 images of butterflies, caterpillars and a Cecropia Moth taken
mostly in Southern California, with a few images from Yosemite National Park and New Mexico.

Images are captioned with detailed information on each species.
See the index below for a list of species displayed on each page.

Click an image to open a larger version.
Use your back button to return to this page.

Butterflies 1
 Buckeye, Bernardino Dotted Blue, Cabbage White, California Dogface, California Sister,
Cecropia Moth, Great Southern White, Julia Heliconian, Lorquin’s Admiral, Red Admiral, Skippers.

Butterflies 2
Malachite, Monarch, Mourning Cloak, Painted Lady, Queen, Viceroy,
Zebra Longwing, Monarch and White-lined Sphinx Caterpillars.

Swallowtail Butterflies
Anise Swallowtail, Black Swallowtail, Giant Swallowtail,
Palamedes Swallowtail, Polydamas Swallowtail, Tiger Swallowtail.

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Anise_Swallowtail_X4356M


Anise Swallowtail X4356 M

An Anise Swallowtail resting on an Egyptian Starcluster. Note the hair on the body and inner wings.

The Anise Swallowtail is a medium-sized black butterfly with distinctive yellow markings across the wings,
iridescent blue markings on the trailing end of both upper and lower surfaces of the wings, a red and black
central spot between the rump and the tails, and the characteristic pointed tails of the Swallowtail Butterfly.

The Anise Swallowtail has a wingspan of 3 to 4 inches, although some can be smaller than three inches.
The body is primarily black, with broad yellow stripes on each side. They prefer fennel (anise) and citrus.

More information and images of Swallowtail butterflies are on the Swallowtail page.

Buckeye_HS4226M


Buckeye HS4226 M

Buckeye_HS4262M


Buckeye HS4262 M

Male (left) and female Buckeyes, basking on a rock. The Buckeye is distinctive, with multicolored eyespots
at the trailing edges of the wings, light postmedian bands at the apex of the forewings that often encircle the
larger forewing eyespot, two black-bordered orange bars at the leading edge of the forewing, and an orange
streak at the trailing edge of the hindwing. The orange forewing bars and hindwing streak are narrower and
duller on the male, and the male wings are brown, while the female wings have a more orange-brown cast.

All of the landscape (horizontal) large version images linked from the thumbnails are 1500 pixels wide.
Portrait (vertical) images are 1200 pixels tall (1290 pixels with title bar). Images designated with an “M”
in the shot number are 5:4 aspect ratio, 1500 x 1290 with a title bar, or 1500 x 1200 without a title bar.
Some of the portrait images are also designated as “M”, and are 1500 pixels tall (plus the title bar).

Buckeye_HS4264


Buckeye HS4264

A close frontal portrait of a female Buckeye showing the eye and facial detail.

Buckeye_HS4293


Buckeye HS4293

A Buckeye poses with its wings closed while resting on a leaf. The ventral surface (underside) of the wings
is a nearly uniform brownish tan with a delicate pattern and two diffuse eyespots, radically different than the
dorsal surface (upperside) of the wings. Buckeyes have large brown or tan eyes with darker brown spots.

Buckeye_HS4308


Buckeye HS4308

A female Buckeye basking on a rock. Note the highly saturated black-bordered orange bars on
the forewings, and the broad diffuse orange band just forward of the trailing edge of the hindwing.

Buckeye_HS4384


Buckeye HS4384

A female Buckeye resting on a leaf. Compare the character of the black-bordered orange forewing bars
and the depth of the orange band on the trailing edge of the hindwing to the male shown in the image below.

Buckeye_HS4469


Buckeye HS4469

A male Buckeye resting on the ground shows the more uniform brown wing color, the duller black-bordered
orange bars on the forewings, and the shallower orange band on the trailing edge of the hindwing. Buckeyes
drink nectar from a number of flower types, and the caterpillars feed on Snapdragon, Acanthus and Plantains.

Buckeyes_HS4526


Buckeyes HS4526

A female (above left) and male Buckeye perched side by side on flowers, allowing an easy comparison.

Adult Buckeyes only live for about 10 days in the wild, so they are focused on mating as rapidly as possible.

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CabbageWhite_0844M


Cabbage White 0844 M

CabbageWhite_0870M


Cabbage White 0870 M

The Cabbage White, or Small White, is a widespread butterfly which was introduced into Quebec in the
late 1850s from Europe. Since then, the caterpillars have become a pest as they eat cabbage, broccoli
cauliflower and other plants in the mustard family. They are mostly white with darker markings at the apex
of the forewings, and dark spots on each wing. Males have one spot and females have two on each wing.

CabbageWhite_8476


Cabbage White 8476

An adult female Cabbage White drinking nectar. Adults drink nectar from several species of flowers.
The Cabbage White is the only introduced Old World butterfly, which spread south from Canada over
the 50 year period after it was introduced from Europe. The Cabbage White has spread to the entire
North American continent. They are incredibly prolific... the offspring of a single female can reach into
the millions in a few generations. The caterpillars, called the Imported Cabbage Worm, are voracious
eaters, boring deep into the interior of cabbage, broccoli, kale and other plants in the mustard family.

GreatSouthernWhite_HS4316


Great Southern White HS4316

The Great Southern White can be identified by its turquoise blue antennae tips and the dark brown to black
scalloped edge markings on the forewings. The images above and below show males, which are whiter than
the females. Females are darker in the wet season than the dry season, but always have darker wing markings
than the males along with a small dark spot about 2/3 of the way from the wing root on the top of the forewing.

GreatSouthernWhite_X4334


Great Southern White X4334

Great Southern White adults feed on the nectar of many species of flowers, especially Lantana and Verbena.
The caterpillars are hosted on and feed on plants in the mustard and caper families. They are mostly found on
the southern Atlantic and Gulf coasts down to Central and South America, but some have been introduced to
California. Generally lazy, low fliers, they sometimes put on bursts of speed to chase dogs and cyclists for fun.

CaliforniaDogface_X4364c_M


California Dogface X4364c M

CaliforniaDogface_X4389c_M


California Dogface X4389c M

The California Dogface is the official state insect of California. It was unofficially designated in 1929 as the first
state insect, and many states followed suit, naming either a state insect, a state butterfly, or both. Four decades
were required before it was officially adopted by a law signed by then-Governor Ronald Reagan in 1972. The
California Dogface is endemic to California. It is found only within the state, mostly south of the Central Valley.

CaliforniaDogface_X4370M


California Dogface X4370 M

The California Dogface gets its name from the pattern on the upper wing of the male, which resembles the
silhouette of a dog’s face. Capturing an image of this pattern is difficult, as these butterflies close their wings
immediately upon landing, and when they open their wing they immediately fly about 15 to 20 feet into the air.
They are very fast fliers, and do not linger long when they do land on a flower. They can fly for well over a mile.

CaliforniaDogface_X4395


California Dogface X4395

A male California Dogface drinking nectar from an Egyptian Starcluster. These images are all of males.
The females are a lighter yellow, with less prominent spots and no pattern on their upper wing surfaces.
The adult California Dogface has enormous yellow eyes with diffuse brown spots. Adults drink nectar
from several flower species, preferring red or purple flowers. The caterpillars feed on false indigo.

CaliforniaDogface_X4404


California Dogface X4404

A California Dogface drinking nectar from an Egyptian Starcluster.

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CaliforniaSister_0830


California Sister 0830

A California Sister basks on a rock in Temescal Canyon, near the Pacific Ocean. A relative of the
Admirals, the California Sister is a dark brown to black butterfly with large orange patches at the apex
of the forewings and white spots leading to a white median band which traverses the wings diagonally
from the orange patches across the center of the wings to the end of the body. They prefer areas in
foothills or the lower mountains along the edges of the woods, or in canyons near small streams.

The underside of the wings look similar to the upper wing, but with blue-gray markings near
the body and on the trailing edge of the wing. Both males and females visit mud puddles
to suck up fluids rich in nutrients, salts and amino acids (in most butterfly species, only
the males puddle). They are often found near Oak trees, and feed on fermenting fruit,
tree sap, and occasionally flower nectar when other food is not available. Caterpillars
feed on the leaves of Oak trees, which makes them unpalatable to predators. A large
number of other species mimic their appearance as a protection against predators.

RedAdmiral_HS0308


Red Admiral HS0308

RedAdmiral_HS4309


Red Admiral HS4309

The Red Admiral is dark brown to black with white spots at the apex of the forewing, a red-orange medial
band on the forewing, and a red-orange band on the trailing edge of the hindwing on the dorsal wing surface.
On the ventral surface (underside), the forewing looks similar but the hindwing has a delicate pattern (see below).
Red Admirals are people-friendly butterflies, and will often approach or even land on a person (kids love this).

RedAdmiral_HS0289M


Red Admiral HS0289 M

Close detail of a Red Admiral basking on a rock with its wings closed. Note the delicately patterned
brown and black hindwing surface, which provides the butterflies with superb camouflage when they
perch on tree bark to drink the sap. Like the California Sister, they primarily eat fermenting fruit and
tree sap, but they will drink nectar from flowers if these are not available. Caterpillars are hosted on
plants in the Nettle family. Red Admirals are larger and brighter in the summer than in the winter.

LorquinsAdmiral_0829


Lorquin’s Admiral 0829

A Lorquin’s Admiral perched on a leaf. The Lorquin’s Admiral is a very aggressive butterfly which guards its
territory by attacking intruders pugnaciously... even large birds are not immune. I have seen a Lorquin’s Admiral
go after a Raven which was at least 30 times larger, harassing its head until it left the area. They are a bit smaller
than other Admirals, with brownish-black upper wings and a white medial band. The upper side of the forewings
have orange tips. The underside of the wings are orange and black with a white medial band and red and white
spots just behind the leading edge of the wing. They prefer canyons and moist woodlands, and are often found
on Willow, Aspen, Cottonwood and Choke Cherry trees. The females are considerably larger than the males.

PaintedLady_HS4330


Painted Lady HS4330

A Painted Lady resting on an Egyptian Starcluster with its wings closed. The Painted Lady is related to the
Admirals, and is the most widely distributed butterfly in the world. The ventral surface (underside) of the wings
have five small multicolored eyespots in a delicate pattern of browns and tans. The dorsal (upper) wing surface
is orange and dark brown-to-black patterned with five white spots at the apex of the forewing (see below).
Painted Ladies are strong migrators, but their patterns are erratic and they do not migrate every year.

PaintedLady_HS4334


Painted Lady HS4334

Painted Ladies are smaller than other brush-footed butterflies, with a wingspan of about 2 to 3 inches.
The adults drink nectar from a wide variety of plants, and the caterpillars are hosted on a variety of plants
such as Thistle, Mallow and Hollyhock. Their coloration provides superb camouflage against predators.

More images and information on Painted Ladies are on the Butterflies 2 page.

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CecropiaMoth_X4307


Cecropia Moth X4307

The Cecropia Moth, a giant silk moth, is the largest moth native to North America, with a 5 to 7 inch wingspan.
They are generally found in hardwood forests east of the Rocky Mountains, although there are some populations
in Washington and Utah, and apparently a few in California. These images are of a female... the antennae of the
male are even larger and more feathery, allowing it to detect the female pheromones from over a mile away.
The abdomen of the female is larger and more rounded than the male. Females can lay over 100 eggs.

CecropiaMoth_X4307c_M


Cecropia Moth X4307c M

A detail crop of the body of a female Cecropia Moth, showing the large feathery antennae. The body is
brownish orange with black and white stripes and a row of framed spots along the length of the body. The
white stripe framing the spots continues over the head, forming a ‘fur collar’ accentuating the regal aspect
of this spectacular moth. Their wings are brown with white hairlike scales, a reddish-brown medial band
and crescent marks on all wings, and a lavender tinge around an eyespot at the apex of the forewing.

CecropiaMoth_X4416


Cecropia Moth X4416

The sole purpose of the adult moth is to mate and lay eggs, and the adults do not eat. The caterpillars eat
enough to sustain the moth for about two weeks of adult life, eating leaves of hardwood trees such as Maple,
Cherry, Birch, Elm, Apple and others. The caterpillars grow to 4-5 inches, shedding its skin each time it grows
larger than the skin can stretch. It spins a small silk pad to grip with its feet, remains still for two days while
growing the new skin, then simply walks out of its old skin and eats it. When the caterpillar has grown to
full size in late summer, it spins a tough, brown, weather-resistant cocoon in which it will pupate over
the winter, completing its metamorphosis into a spectacular Cecropia Moth for the arrival of spring.

White-lined_Sphinx_Caterpillar_X4324


White-lined Sphinx Caterpillar X4324

The images above and below show the caterpillar of the White-lined Sphinx Moth (the Hummingbird Moth).
The adult moth is remarkably similar to hummingbirds in both appearance and flight characteristics as it hovers
over flowers while feeding on nectar. Caterpillars are either black with yellow markings or lime green with black
or brown markings in several different patterns depending on the environment. The caterpillars feed on a wide
variety of plants, but they seem to prefer those in the primrose family. The caterpillars pupate underground.

White-lined_Sphinx_Caterpillar_X4348M


White-lined Sphinx Caterpillar X4348 M

A White-lined Sphinx caterpillar peeks through a screen of flowers at the photographer while it feeds.
The larvae eat a lot of plant material while growing prior to digging their underground pupating chamber.
Caterpillars in warmer environments are darker, and in hotter areas they can be nearly completely black.
After eating much of the plant material in an area, large groups of these caterpillars sometimes migrate
across roads to new pastures, leaving a number of their colleagues squished flat by passing cars.

Mating_Bernardino_DottedBlues_0297c


Mating Bernardino Dotted Blues 0297c

A mating pair of Bernardino Dotted Blues in Temescal Canyon, near the Pacific Ocean.
The female (on the top) has a broader orange submarginal hindwing band than the male.

The Bernardino Dotted Blue is becoming a vulnerable species as the scrub and chapparal
habitat it prefers is becoming lost to development. These butterflies make extended local
migrations of up to 100-125 miles to breeding or wintering grounds or hibernation sites.
Caterpillars are hosted on various wild buckwheats, and adults feed on flower nectar.

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BullThistle_Skipper_MirrorLakeTrail_3968


Bull Thistle Skipper Mirror Lake Trail 3968

A variation of the Western Branded Skipper known as the Yosemite Skipper feeding on a Bull Thistle at the edge of Ahwahnee Meadow, on the Mirror Lake Trail in Yosemite.

BullThistle_Skipper_MirrorLakeTrail_3970c


Bull Thistle Skipper Mirror Lake Trail 3970c

The Bull Thistle is an invasive plant native to Europe which was imported to California in the 1860s. It has virtually taken over the Stoneman, Ahwahnee and Cook’s Meadows in the Yosemite Valley. There are 36 species of Skippers living in Yosemite National Park, many of which are hard to identify.

FierySkipper_9350


Fiery Skipper 9350

FierySkipper_onLantana_9442


Fiery Skipper on Lantana 9442

Close detail of Fiery Skippers taken in Southern California.

There are over 2000 species of Grass Skippers, and about 3500 species of skippers overall.
Many species look identical, and cannot be identified in the field, even by experts. It often requires
dissection and microscopic examination of specific structures of their genitalia to tell them apart.

FierySkipper_9353M


Fiery Skipper 9353 M

A closeup of a Fiery Skipper male with its wings closed, taken in Southern California. The Fiery Skipper
is a Grass Skipper with very large eyes and short antennae generally found in open areas like fields, lawns
and meadows. They are fast, darting butterflies which like many others in the Skipper family exhibit a flight
characteristic in which they seem to be skipping over the grass. The caterpillars eat a variety of grasses,
and adults feed on the nectar of several varieties of flowers. Females are darker and larger than males.

FierySkipper_onSweetGarlic_0452M


Fiery Skipper on Sweet Garlic 0452 M

A male Fiery Skipper drinking nectar from a Sweet Garlic flower in Southern California. Fiery Skippers
make extended local migrations of up to 100-125 miles to reach breeding or wintering grounds or their
hibernation sites. They are about one inch long, with the females having a larger wingspan than males.
Males perch on grass waiting for a receptive female to fly by. Females lay single eggs under leaves.
Caterpillars eat leaves of grass, and roll and tie them into horizontal shelters which they lie under.

FierySkipper_onMexicanSage_0464M


Fiery Skipper on Mexican Sage 0464 M

A male Fiery Skipper drinking nectar on Mexican Sage in Southern California.
Fiery Skippers have rather husky, hairy bodies. They can often be seen holding
their hindwings completely open and the forewings at a 45 degree angle, which
is assumed to be a position which absorbs more sunlight. Their antennae are
slightly curved and widely separated, attaching to the head near the eyes.

Kittentail_Skipper_JemezRiver_X5296M


Kittentail Skipper Jemez River X5296 M

A Skipper feeds on Kittentail nectar beside the Jemez River, in the Jemez Mountains above Los Alamos, NM.
This is probably a Western Branded Skipper. More images of the Jemez Mountains and the Los Alamos area
are in the Southwest section, New Mexico subsection, on the Los Alamos and Mountain Wildlflowers pages.

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FierySkipper_onSwampVerbena_X4906M


Fiery Skipper on Swamp Verbena X4906 M

A Fiery Skipper about to drink nectar from a Swamp Verbena in Southern California.
The Fiery Skipper is fond of human development, as lawns make perfect breeding grounds.
They breed mostly on Bermuda grass and other turf grasses, and adults feed on garden
flowers such as Lantana, Verbena, Lavender, Garlic, Sage, Daisies, Zinnias, etc.
In some urban areas, the Fiery Skipper is considered to be a lawn pest.

FierySkipper_onSwampVerbena_X4906c


Fiery Skipper on Swamp Verbena X4906c

A detail crop, slightly resized down from the master image, showing the hairy body,
short antennae and very large eyes of a Fiery Skipper about to feed on Swamp Verbena.

FierySkipper_onSwampVerbena_X4907


Fiery Skipper on Swamp Verbena X4907

A Fiery Skipper with its proboscis extended to drink nectar from a Swamp Verbena.

The proboscis is made up of two parts (galea) which literally zip together after the adult
butterfly emerges from its pupal cocoon. The tiny hooks and fringes that zip the proboscis
together are natural velcro. Each of the two galeae of the proboscis contain nerves, muscles,
a trachea tube and a central groove which becomes the food channel when the two parts join.

Moths and butterflies can only feed on liquids containing particles small enough to fit through
the food canal, but Zebra Longwings and other Heliconians can feed on pollen by creating a
ball on the tip of the proboscis and regurgitating digestive juices to break down the pollen.

SachemSkipper_onSwampVerbena_X4899


Sachem Skipper on Swamp Verbena X4899

SachemSkipper_onSwampVerbena_X4905


Sachem Skipper on Swamp Verbena X4905

A male Sachem Skipper feeding on Swamp Verbena. Males are yellow-orange with lightly marked ventral
wing surfaces. Females are yellowish-brown and have a medial band of square cream spots in a V-pattern.
The variations in markings of the Sachem Skipper can often make identification of this butterfly difficult.

SachemSkipper_onSwampVerbena_X4897M


Sachem Skipper on Swamp Verbena X4897 M

Like the Fiery Skipper, the Sachem breeds on Bermuda grass, St. Augusting grass, and other turf grasses.
Adults feed on the nectar of many flowers, such as Milkweeds, Sunflowers, Marigolds, Asters, Verbena, etc.
They are often found in the same areas as the Fiery Skippers, preferring open lawns, parks and gardens.
As can be seen, the antennae tips of Skippers curve backwards like a crochet hook. These differ from
the antennae tips of other butterflies, which are more club-like. Skippers are also more muscular.

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JuliaHeliconian_X4241


Julia Heliconian X4241

A male Julia Heliconian resting on a leaf in a garden in Southern California.

Heliconians are the longwing butterflies. Their forewings are much longer than those
of other butterflies. Members of the Heliconians include the Fritillaries, Lacewings, Cruisers,
Longwings, and Dryas iulia (Julia), among others. There are about 45-50 genera of Heliconians.
Their colorations are mostly orange, reddish and black, and while wing shapes differ they are
all elongated towards the tip, thus the common name of this butterfly family is “longwing”.

JuliaHeliconian_HS4311


Julia Heliconian HS4311

JuliaHeliconian_HS4437


Julia Heliconian HS4437

On the left, a male Julia Heliconian, and on the right is a female. The black markings of the male
are lighter and more diffuse than the solid markings of the female, which continue across the wing
from leading to trailing edge. Some males have darker markings, but they always end by mid-wing.

JuliaHeliconian_X4255M


Julia Heliconian X4255 M

The ventral surface of a female Julia Heliconian (Dryas iulia) showing the golden brown underwing pattern.
The ventral surface of the male Dryas iulia is more orange, as is shown in a series of images further below.
Ventral color of male wings is variable, but in my experience it is always more orange than that of females.

Below is a detail crop resized down from the master image showing head and wing detail.

JuliaHeliconian_X4255c


Julia Heliconian X4255c

Like other Heliconians, Dryas iulia has a specialized proboscis which allows it to feed on pollen by
regurgitating digestive juices onto a ball of pollen which they roll and attach to the end of the proboscis.
This dissolves the pollen, allowing them to ingest it and get amino acids which are not present in nectar.
The addition of pollen into their diet makes it possible for Heliconians to live longer than other butterflies.

JuliaHeliconian_HS4475


Julia Heliconian HS4475

JuliaHeliconian_detail_HS4479


Julia Heliconian detail HS4479

A male Julia Heliconian with somewhat ragged wings, hanging underneath a leaf.
Note the more orange color pattern to the ventral surface (underside) of the male wing.
Julias have enormous eyes, silvery gray with darker gray spots, covering most of the head.

JuliaHeliconian_detail_HS4476c


Julia Heliconian detail HS4476c

A detail crop of a male Julia Heliconian (Dryas iulia) showing detail of the eye,
the head and retracted proboscis, wing root, the hairy thorax and part of the legs.

The genus name Dryas derives from ancient Greek. ‘Drys’ in Greek means Oak, and
the Dryads were nymphs of Oak trees, although the name is used for all tree nymphs.
The name Dryas itself was a name of multiple characters in Greek mythology, including
the son of Ares (God of War) who was involved in the Caledonian Hunt, several princes
and kings, famous warriors including one from Homer’s account of the Trojan War, etc.

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JuliaHeliconian_X4357


Julia Heliconian X4357

JuliaHeliconian_X4398


Julia Heliconian X4398

The dorsal wing surfaces of a male (left) and female Julia. The male markings are only at the leading edge.
Julias lay their eggs singly on several species of Passionvine, occasionally laying off the leaves on vine tendrils.
The caterpillars are black and white with orange and black heads, and have long, stiff spiky bristles on their backs.

JuliaHeliconian_X4258


Julia Heliconian X4258

A female Julia Heliconian resting on a leaf. The female Julia is generally a less vibrant orange than the male.
Adults feed on the nectar of flowers and vine plants as well as on pollen as has been described further above.

JuliaHeliconian_X4372


Julia Heliconian X4372

A female Julia unspooling her proboscis while preparing to feed on the nectar of a Lantana.
The wingspan of Dryas iulia is 3 to 3.5 inches. Rapid fliers, they are often at the edges of forests.

JuliaHeliconian_detail_X4378


Julia Heliconian detail X4378

Close detail of a male Julia Heliconian drinking nectar. Note the enormous speckled eyes.

ZebraLongwing_HS4197


Zebra Longwing HS4197

Another of the Heliconian butterflies, the Zebra Longwing is black or dark brown with white or yellow stripes.
The body and head is black with white spots, and the typical wingspan is 3 to 4 inches. Like the Julia Heliconian,
the Zebra Longwing hosts on various species of Passionflowers, and they augment their diet with pollen, allowing
them to both gain additional amino acids and synthesize toxic glycosides to dissuade predators from eating them.
They roost in groups of 50 to 60 individuals to deter predators and share warmth, and return to the same roosts.

ZebraLongwing_X4367


Zebra Longwing X4367

A Zebra Longwing at rest on a leaf. Zebra Longwings practice a habit known as pupal mating, in which the
larvae which feed on plants damage the plant, releasing certain volatile alcohols, acetates and aldehydes
which the males can detect. These olfactory cues indicate the location where a pupa can be found. When
a pupa emerges, two or more males may fight, the winner copulating with the newly emerged female. Other
males are prevented from mating with her by nutrients in the spermatophore which reduce her attractiveness.

More information and images of Zebra Longwings are on the Butterflies 2 page.

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Butterflies_2


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Butterflies 2 page.

Malachite, Monarch, Mourning Cloak, Painted Lady, Queen, Viceroy,
Zebra Longwing, Monarch and White-lined Sphinx Caterpillars.

Swallowtails


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Swallowtails page.

Anise Swallowtail, Black Swallowtail, Giant Swallowtail,
Palamedes Swallowtail, Polydamas Swallowtail, Tiger Swallowtail.

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