Heliconius charitonius is common to Central and South America but also resides in southern Florida. It begins mating right after it emerges from its chrysalis. The female lays five to fifteen eggs on the leaves of passion flower vines. The caterpillar (depicted twice the size) has a white body with long black spines and a yellow/green head. It can go from egg to butterfly in a little over three weeks and continues this life cycle year round.The Passion flower depicted here is Passiflora incarnata, a species common to the southern USA. The Passion flower is named for the Passion of Christ on the cross. In the 15th century, Spanish Christian missionaries discovered it and adopted its unique structures as symbols of the Crucifixion. The 72 radial filaments (depicted 10 times actual size) represent the Crown of Thorns; the ten petals, the ten apostles; the top three stigmata, the three nails; and the lower five anthers, the five wounds.
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