This Spring and Summer of 2012, there are two butterflies that I saw flying around my neighborhood here in Georgia that I’ve never seen before. In May 2012, I saw a Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus), and in late August and early September 2012, there was a Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charitonius) that often visited the flowers in the yard.
In 12 years of living in Georgia, I have never before had the pleasure of observing these two species of butterflies here. As a girl, I had seen them flying about in Florida, and considered them somewhat more of tropical types of Lepidoptera, although they really are not true tropical butterflies. It seems, however, that they may sometimes prefer habitats that are more hot and/or moist (wet and/or humid).
The Zebra Swallowtail has wings that are long, resembling triangles, with tails that are swordlike. It’s colors include white to bluish-green with black bands and stripes. It also has blue and red spots on it’s wings; and the sizes and colors of the butterfly vary with the spring and summer seasons. The Zebra Swallowtail is commonly seen in Washington, DC and Virginia, though it’s range includes Ontario, Canada, the Lake States, Southern New England States, and along the Atlanta Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico and Florida (Pyle, p. 348).
The Zebra Longwing has wings that are narrow and long, colored in black and banded with yellow stripes. It also has red spots on the bases of it’s wings. The habitat of the Zebra Longwing includes thick woods, forest edges, and hammocks. It is the State butterfly of Florida, and ranges from South Carolina to Texas, south through Latin America and the West Indies, while also appearing west to Southern California and Colorado (Pyle, p. 541).
Both of these are beautiful butterflies, and it is has been a real treat to see them flying around here in Georgia this year! I have wondered whether or not observing them in Georgia this year is a sign of climate change and the butterflies possibly becoming more common in this area and/or extending their habitats into places in which they are more rare or unusual. It was so incredibly hot here this summer, I would suspect that the intense heat and global warming potentially influenced the ranges of these butterflies this year.
Pyle, Robert M. (1981). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies. New York: Alfred A. Knopf , Inc.
Zebra Longwing Butterfly. “Welcome to Florida.” September 16, 2012. http://eikaiwa-blog.blogspot.com/2010/10/zebra-longwing.html.
Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly. “Arkansas State Parks Blog: Stories and Information from Arkansas State Parks.” September 16, 2012. http://arkansasstateparks.wordpress.com/category/wildlife/butterflies/.
There was a beautiful duo of Tiger Swallowtail butterflies alight on the same butterfly bush flower this morning, along with a bumblebee, so I just had to share this photo. When I had looked outside, there were originally three Tiger Swallowtails on this same flower, but by the time I got outside, the third was already flying around the yard.
There have been many Tiger Swallowtails and Black Form Tiger Swallowtails, as well as Gulf Fritillaries, Skippers, Sulphurs, Buckeyes, and Painted Ladies flying around the flowers in the past two to three weeks. I have also seen two butterflies of a more tropical variety, about which I will devote my next post. Enjoy!