Julia Butterfly

Julia Butterfly Dryas iulia

Type of Animal:
Brush-Footed Butterfly

Subtropical/tropical forest, gardens, cattle grazing lands, clearings, forest margins, open woodland, shrubby areas, parks, tropical woodland, oak hammocks, hardwood hammocks, meadows, riverbanks, deciduous forest, cattle pastures

Ranges from Texas & Florida through Caribbean all the way to Brazil & Bolivia. Can sometimes be found as far north as E Nebraska. Introduced to Thailand, Malaysia, & Singapore.

Elongated orange wings w/ black markings, males brighter than females & females have more black markings. Caterpillars go through 5 instars (development stages) before pupating-1st instar pale yellowish green, 2nd instar yellowish brow, 3rd instar dark yellowish brown w/ white patches being more extensive, 4th instar looks similar to 3rd instar, 5th instar has more noticeable black frontal side of head w/ back of head yellowish to orangy brown & base color pale pink to purplish brown, body surface more decorated w/ many small & transverse black patches/bands, all instars have long branched black spines.

Adults eat lantana nectar, shepherd’s needle/beggarticks nectar, Eupatorium nectar, creeping oxeye nectar, pollen, & crocodilian & turtle tears (for salts & minerals). Caterpillars eat passion flowers/passion vines & garden roses.

Status in Wild:

Breeding in butterfly gardens, zoos, aquariums, & museums 

Found in groups of 10-300 butterflies

Additional Info:

Young: Caterpillar
Group: Flutter

3-4 days

Life Span:
1.5 months

Body Length/Wingspan:
Male: 2.95-3.2 in
Female: 3.15-3.6 in
Caterpillar: 0.62-0.63 in

Main predators are birds.

Females lay eggs singly on host plants.

After females lay eggs, they hatch into caterpillars, going through 5 instars (development stages). In between each instar, exoskeleton molted. 1st instar lasts 2.5 days, 2nd instar lasts 2 days, 3rd instar lasts 2 days, 4th instar lasts 2 days, 5th instar lasts 3.5-4 days. In total, caterpillar stage lasts almost 2 weeks. After 5th instar, caterpillar stops eating & wanders around, finding underside of plant, spinning silk pad from which it hangs, becoming pupa. Pupa stage lasts 5-6 days. After pupa stage, they become butterflies. Adult stage lasts 2-4 weeks.

Adults forage along set route of nectar sources each day-this is called “trap-lining.”

Introduction of butterflies into SE Asia derive from 1 butterfly house in Phuket, Thailand releasing them during Buddhist ceremonies & weddings.

Fun Fact(s):
Caterpillars can cause skin rashes when handled due to spines.

These butterflies will agitate eyes of crocodilians & turtles to drink mineral/salt-infused water.

While not toxic, these butterflies have bright coloration to deter predators. This is called Batesian mimicry.

When roosting, they resemble dead leaves.

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