The Daily News received this information and photos from local butterfly expert Mary Ann Friedman of Niceville, who wanted to share some good news about a butterfly uncommon to these parts, the zebra helicon:
"In most years we get a few strays late in the year. Last year there were a few more than usual. This year we are seeing them in good numbers all along the coast and even up in the Blackwater River State Forest.
"They are a 'different' shape than most of our 'local' butterfly species and they are unmistakable in flight. They seem to oscillate and create a shimmering effect. They use passion vine as a caterpillar host which is also being used by Gulf fritillaries at this time of year.
"In my yard in Niceville we have reared several zebras from eggs we watched being posted on passion vine. (Saturday) we released the sixth adult zebra heliconian back into the yard. Here is life cycle: Female posting eggs on passion vine, early instar caterpillars, mid instar caterpillar, late instar caterpillar, prepupa hanging in 'j,' first pupal molt, pupa pre-eclosure, newly eclosed adults and nectaring adult.
The zebra heliconian is our state butterfly."