Atalas Abound

The atala butterfly (Eumaeus atala), once thought to be extinct, has expanded its range likely due the increased use/transport of its larval host plant, coontie (Zamia integrifolia), in landscaping, rearing/releases at Disney Wabasso Beach, and warming temperatures. The photo above was taken in 2016 about 5 miles north of Disney Wabasso Beach.

Chapter members Chris & Janet Waln sent these photos of atala butterflies about to emerge from their chrysalises. On 4 coontie plants, they had 20 chrysalises …

Eggs are laid on soft new foliage (“flush”), since the tiny larvae (caterpillars) are unable to chew up harder, older foliage. Just flushed foliage is shown below in the yard of Tom Brown, which our Chapter visited on June 18, 2021 …

Fran Robinson, whose yard we visited most recently on 5-20-2021, was thrilled to have atalas visit her yard for the first time and sent this caterpillar photo …

If you plant it, they (atalas) are likely to come but not necessarily stay, as eggs are laid on soft new foliage.

Coonties often are planted in masses, as shown below in the yard of Carol Thomas.

Extensively chewed leaves will die and turn brown. Just cut them off and enjoy the beautiful butterflies. “Makes us smile” is what Chris and Janet Waln say about their atala butterflies …

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