Photographs by Susan Leach Snyder
Julia Butterflies are also called Orange Longwing Butterflies because of their shape.
They, like the Gulf Fritillary and Zebra Longwing, are called brush-footed butterflies because their first pair of legs are modified into brushes which they use to taste plants. The female scrapes plant leaves with these brushes, tastes the chemicals in the plants, and identifies the host plant for her caterpillars; and thus, the plant on which to lay her eggs. These plants include a variety of passion flower species.
The eggs are yellow and elongated. Like the Zebra Longwing, they are laid singly on the tender new tips of the passion flower vine.
Julia caterpillars are brown with white spots and black, branched spines. Their heads are a light yellow-brown color. Predators have learned to avoid both the caterpillars and the adults because chemicals in the passion flower vines do not taste good. The chrysalis of a Julia, like that of the Zebra Longwing, looks like a dead leaf.
After it emerges from its chrysalis, the adult Julia is attracted to the nectar of a variety of flowers, especially lantana and Shepherd's needle. The female and male Julias are very similar in appearance, but the female is a soft orangish-brown color and has several dark bands on its wings. The male is bright orange and has a few small dark spots on its forewing. The picture above and below is of a female. Note that part of its right hind wing has been lost.
Julias live in Central and South America and range into Central Florida. Compared to the other adult longwing butterflies, Julia butterflies have a short lifespan of only a few weeks. To date, we have found no eggs or caterpillars in the Conservancy garden.
Index to Butterfly and Moth Visitors to the Conservancy Ecotone Trail
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Plant Lists by Garden
Conservancy of Southwest Florida Ecotone Home Page
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