Florida Atala Butterflies Back from the Brink?
The Florida atala butterfly (Eumaeus atala Poey) is a rare hairstreak butterfly characterized by satiny black wings featuring an iridescent turquois shimmer. It was thought to be extinct due to overharvest of its host plant, Zamia integrifolia (a.k.a. coontie). These butterflies were rediscovered and are found in highly localized populations in coastal central and south Florida. Availability of its native host plant and widespread insecticide use are limiting factors that continue to endanger this rare butterfly. The UF/IFAS Extension St Lucie County extension agents worked with partners to conduct field days, exhibit public displays and conduct presentations to teach people how to conserve atalas. A program designed to encourage adoption of atala-friendly landscape practices was created and adopted by organizations in St. Lucie County and other Florida counties where atalas are present.
Learn about this unique and beautiful butterfly. This webinar was updated and aired as part of the UF Nature Nurture series on April 23, 2021. For information about the Nature Nurture series, contact Dr. Shelly Johnson. That series can be accessed HERE.
How can Florida residents and visitors help? If you’ve seen a colony of atala butterflies please report them here.
How can Florida public and private land managers help? Adopt practices and commit to conservation of atalas on your site.
Publications Written by Sandy Koi
Most common garden plants for atala butterflies