I was reading up on the Zebra Longwing butterflies. I may have goofed by raising them in cages when it concerns their mating habits. (Hopefully hand-reared butterflies still mate!)
This particular butterfly is quite an interesting species.
Quoted from this websitehttp://www.statesymbolsusa.org/Florida/butterfly_zebralongwing.html
"This butterfly is characterized by long black wings with distinctive thin stripes and a slow, graceful flight. It makes a creaking sound when alarmed. Zebra longwings feed on nectar and pollen (the only butterflies known to eat pollen, which is probably why they have a long lifespan (about six months, as compared to a more usual one month for other butterfly species)."
I had NO idea they live that long! That is amazing!!!!
Also got this info from this websitehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heliconius_charithonia
"Another unusual feature is that adults roost in groups of up to 70, and return to the same roost each evening."
With all the ones that I am currently raising, that would be so cool to see them roosting somewhere in or near my yard at night!
And this was another very interesting bit of info, though I am hoping that raising them in cages doesn't mess up their natural mating habitshttp://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Heliconius-charithonia
"Males patrol for females, and are also attracted to female chrysalids. A male will wait on the chrysalis and mate with the female as she is about to emerge. He then deposits on her abdomen a chemical than repels other males."
Here is a photo of two ZLW butterflies that I released today. I can't tell the male from the female, so I have no idea what gender I'm releasing. I just hope they produce lots more babies!
I have probably 30 or so ZLW chrysalises right now! This is the first time I've ever raised them! I am so excited!
Here are just a few of them in a smaller cage.