Historic Markers Across Florida

Butterflies of Lee County

Marker ID:  
Location: 10901 Palm Beach Blvd, Fort Myers, FL
County: Lee
Coordinates: N 26° 41.59    W 081° 46.656
  26.69316666    -81.7776
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: WMV4KQ


Butterflies of Lee County

What are Butterflies
Butterflies and Moths are insects that belong to the order Lepidoptera. The Greek word for scale (lepid) and wing (ptera) is joined to mean scale-wing. Their body four wings, and six legs are almost entirely covered with tiny colored scales placed similar in shingles on a roof. The body consists of three segments.

The Abdomen contains digestive, excretion and reproductive systems. Small holes in the abdomen called spiracles provide needed air to the body, because the female body contains her eggs, it generally is larger.

The Thorax bears the six legs and two pair of wings. The feet have a claw for climbing to objects and tiny sensors to taste plants, assisting the butterfly to identify host plants on which to lay her eggs.

The Head has two projecting club-ended antennas for acclimation and smelling. For nutrients, the butterfly has a retractable coil like a straw called a proboscis. It is used to drink nectar from flowers, liquids from dung, rotting fruit or vegetation. The large compound eyes have multiple lenses that are able to produce a single image and see ultraviolet and visible light.

Butterfly or Moth

(A General Rule)
Butterflies: Fly during the day - Have club-ended antennas-
Are more colorful - The wings are together over the back.
The five major families of butterflies contain certain characteristics and behaviors used to identify them.

Moth: Nocturnal-Fly at night - Have feathery or thread antennas-Drab color-Wings are generally by their side.


The Four Transformation Stages of the Butterflies Life
Larva (Caterpillar)
Pupa (Chrysalis)

EggsSingle or clusters of fertilized eggs are laid on or near the host plant unique to that species of butterfly. The architecture of the eggs differs in each butterfly family. The single egg enlarged in the above photo resembles a cob of corn and is smaller then a pinhead. The larva develops inside the egg and nourishes itself on the egg yolk.

Larva (caterpillar) Once hatched the larva becomes a living, eating machine. Most species eat specific plants called host plants. The caterpillar's external skeleton must be shed several times as it grows. Each growth stage is called an instar. In its last instar-stage the caterpillar spins a silk pad to which it will attach itself. Releasing the front legs it swings down to resemble the letter J just before changing into a chrysalis.

Pupa(chrysalis) Metamorphous begins inside the hard paper-thin shell of the chrysalis. The caterpillars body fluids break down and reassemble to form an adult butterfly. This process often takes less than 2 weeks.
Adult After a time (days, weeks, or months)the chrysalis splits open and an adult butterfly emerges. It hangs there while the wings slowly unfold, as they are pumped full of the fluid hemolymph. The butterfly is now fully grown and only when the wings become dry is it able to fly. Butterflies are cold blooded and need the sun's warmth to elevate their body temperature to become mobile.

The average life of an adult butterfly is 2-3 weeks. Different butterfly species may have either shorter or longer lives. Butterflies that migrate or over winter as adults have extended life spans.

Zebra Heliconian
Florida State Butterfly
Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charitonius) Wing Span: 2.5 - 3.5 inches Host Plant: Corky Stem Passion Vine Family: Brush-Foots

Host Plant:
Passion Vines Passiflora, Suberosa & Incarnata

Wing Span: 3.5 inches Host Plant: Green Shrimp Plant Family: Brush-Foots

(Danaus gilippus)
Wing Span: 3 inches Host Plant: Milk Weed Family: Brush-Foots

Common Buckeye
(Junonia coenia)
Wing Span: 2.5 inches Host Plant: Mangrove Family: Brush-Foots

Orange Barred
(Phoebis philea)
Wing Span: 2.5 inches Host Plant: Senna (cassia) Family: Sulphurs & Whites

Black Swallowtail
(Papilio polyxenes)
Wing Span: 3.5 inches Host Plant: Water Dewdrop Family: Swallowtails

Painted Lady
(Vanessa cardui)
Wing Span: 1.75-2 inches Host Plant: Thistle-Mallow Family: Brush-Foots

(Danaus eresimus)
Wing Span: 3 inches Host Plant: White Vine Family: Brush-Foots

Gulf Fritillary
(Agrauls vanillae)
Wing Span: 3.25 inches Host Plant: Corky Stem Passion Vine Family: Brush-Foots

Cloudless Sulphur
(Phoebis sennae)
Wing Span: 2.2-2.8 inches Host Plant: cassia Family: Sulphurs & Whites

Red-banded Hairstreak
(Calycopis cecrops)
Wing Span: .75-1.0 inches Host Plant: Wax Myrtle-Mango Family: Gossamer Wings

Red Admiral
(Vanessa atalanta)
Wing Span: 2 inches Host Plant: False Nettle Family:Brush-Foots

Fiery Skipper
(Hylephila phyleus)
Wing Span: 1.25 inches Host Plant: Grasses Family: Skippers

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
(Papilio glaucus)
Wing Span: 6 inches Host Plant: Sweet Bay Family: Swallowtail

Long-Tailed Skipper
(Urbanus proteus)
Wing Span: 1.5-2.0 inches Host Plant: Legumes Family: Skippers

Giant Swallowtail
(Papilio cresphontes)
Wing Span: 4.5 inches Host Plant: Wild Lime Family: Swallowtail

(Dryas Julia)
Wing Span: 3.25 inches Host Plant: Stem Passion Vine Family:Bush-Foots

Ruddy Dagerwing
(Marpesia petreus)
Wing Span: 2.75 inches Host Plant: Strangler Fig Family: Brush-Foots

(Danaus plexippus) Wing Span: 4.25 inches Host Plant: Milk Weed Family: Brush-foots

Great Southern White
(Ascia monuste)
Wing Span:2.5 inches Host Plant: Saltwort Family: Sulphurs & Whites

Cassius Blue
(Leptotes cassius)
Wing Span: .75-1.0 inches Host Plant: Legumes-Plumbagos Family: Gossamer Wings

Ceraunus Blue
(Hemiargus ceraunus)
Wing Span: .75-1.0 inches Host Plant: Legumes Family: Gossamer Wings

Zebra Swallowtail
(Protographium marcellus) Wing Span: 4 inches Host Plant: Pawpaw Family: Swallowtails

(Limenitis archippus)
Wing Span: 2.75 inches Host Plant: Willow Family: Brush-Foots

White Peacock
(Anartia jatrophae)
Wing Span: 1.75 inches Host Plant: Water Hyssop Family: Brush-Foots

Spice bush Swallowtail
(papilio troilus)
Wing Span: 3.5-5.0 inches Host Plant: Red Bay Family: Swallowtails

Pine Vine Swallowtail
(Battus philenor)
Wing Span: 4.5 inches Host Plant: Pipevine Family: Swallowtails

Manatee Park
Donated by Nick and Aline Bodven Photos & Art Work by Nick and Aline Bodven


Photographs of the marker can be found on HMDB.org