Zebra Longwing Butterfly

This is Florida’s state butterfly! A lovely and distinctive black butterfly with narrow yellow stripes on its elongated wings, the zebra longwing (also known as the zebra heliconian) is native to peninsular Florida and south Texas in the US (sometimes migrating into states further northward). They also live all over South and Central America. Heliconius…

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

A common and striking yellow and black butterfly seen across the eastern United States, this is the eastern tiger swallowtail, Papilio glaucus. It’s a male, because its hindwings have almost no blue — in females, there are big blue patches right above the black parts on the hindwings. Females are actually dimorphic, and have two…

Dorantes Longtail

The family Hesperiidae, including the skippers, duskywings and cloudywings, is an exercise in frustration for field identification: 3500 species of “medium size, brown butterflies with spots” and varying patterns on the wing fringes. Add in the vagaries of amateur entomologist photography and, well. I originally identified this as a southern cloudywing, Thorybes bathyllus, based on…

Three Spotted Skipper

Who knew? — searching for “small brown butterfly” is just as frustrating as searching for “small brown moth”. This particular small brown butterfly happens to be a three-spotted skipper, Cymaenes tripunctus, a grass skipper in the butterfly family Hesperiidae. It lives all over the Caribbean, and of course Florida because everything lives here. “Skipper” type…

Long-Tailed Skipper

This one was hard to identify, mostly because “black swallowtail” describes a bunch of species, and “black butterfly” describes even more. Ironically, this is a very distinctive butterfly which I happened to catch at a terrible angle: if I’d seen this butterfly from above, I would have noticed the bright blue upper side which would…

Julia Butterfly

Dryas iulia (often incorrectly spelled julia) is also known as the Julia butterfly, Julia heliconian, the flame, or flambeau. It is the sole member of the genus Dryas, native from Brazil to the southern United States. There are more than 15 described subspecies. Approximately 80-90 mm across, its elongated wings are primarily orange with black…

Eastern Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

I got all excited, thinking this was a monarch butterfly, but no, it’s a (still gorgeous) impostor — the caterpillar of the eastern black swallowtail butterfly (Papilio polyxenes). The monarch caterpillar has long “antennae” or tendrils on both ends; the swallowtail lacks these appendages. The eastern swallowtail is known by a variety of other names,…