Science Snapshots

Featured: A Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charitonia) at the Canadian Museum of Nature’s Butterfly exhibit. (Source: Laura Porter-Muntz)

  • Zebra Longwing butterflies are uniquely shaped butterflies with long narrow wings. This species’ range extends from Central America to the southern United States.


  • Zebra longwings are considered long-lived butterflies compared to other species that typically live for a few weeks, while these butterflies are able to live and lay their eggs for several months.


  • Like most butterflies, Zebra longwings consume nectar, pollinating flowers while they feed. However, this species is unique in its ability to also eat pollen. The saliva of these butterflies dissolves pollen, a very protein-rich food source compared to the simple sugars found in nectar, allowing them to obtain more nutrients than other species.


  • Butterflies in the Heliconius genus are well-known for being highly intelligent insects. These butterflies have established social orders while roosting, and demonstrate socially aware behaviors such as nudging each other early in the morning to get the roost on the move.

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