I just learned quite a bit on these. I saw 2 of them at the Bronx Zoo. Plus I was reminded of things that I already knew on them.
IMO this is so far one of the most interesting entries in this series.
Heliconius charithonia, commonly known as the Zebra Longwing or Zebra Heliconian, is a species of butterfly belonging to the subfamily Heliconiinae of the Nymphalidae. It was declared the official butterfly for the state of Florida in the United States in 1996.
The caterpillar feeds on Yellow Passionflower (Passiflora lutea), Corky-stemmed Passionflower (Passiflora suberosa), and Two-flower Passionflower (Passiflora biflora). The adults are unusual among butterflies in that they eat pollen as well as sip nectar.
This ability contributes to their longevity—3 months as an adult. Because of their relatively long lifespan and their activity throughout the day, this is a popular species with butterfly houses. Another unusual feature is that adults roost in groups of up to 70, and return to the same roost each evening.
My advise to other butterflies who want to live longer: EAT POLLEN!!
But of course more then likely that would be impossible since Zebra Longwings probably have a specially developed proboscis that allows them to do so.
Kinda like how the Vampire Moth ( Calyptra sp. ) has specially developed mouth parts to suck your blood........more on that later. Also males are attracted to female chrysalids just before they emerge. And they're not the only ones that do that either.
Apparently other Heliconids have this interesting behavior too. See here for a nice peak into the crazy sexual life of Heliconius charithonia!
And you didn't hear it from me! :P