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Atala Butterfly

Audubon of Martin County Commits to Conserve Rare Atala Butterflies

Atala Conservation Statement

Audubon of Martin County, FL Atala Conservation Commitment signed on January 27, 2020. Photo Credits: K. Gioeli

Congratulations to the Audubon of Martin County for proclaiming commitment to conserve rare atala butterflies on their property.  This commitment is made possible by through participation in a program initiated by the UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County in conjunction with collaborating agencies and is designed to promote the conservation of rare atala butterflies in Florida. Learn more about the plight of the Florida atala butterfly HERE.

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.  An Extension 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 atala are present.

A proclamation statement was developed in support of the conservation of the Florida atala butterfly on publicly accessible lands. These statements were developed by Ken Gioeli, UF/IFAS Natural Resources Extension Agent for St. Lucie County and UF graphic artist Michele Wood. Features in the statement include information about the rarity and precarious nature of atala including that it was once thought to be extinct and its dependency on coontie as its singular native food source.  Commitment statements have been signed by partner agencies and work is being conducted to have additional organizations commitment to the conservation of atala butterflies. Contact Ken Gioeli for information. UF/IFAS Extension programs are open to all persons without regard to race, color, sex, age, disability, religion, or national origin.

Important Links
http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/stlucieco/2020/04/01/florida-atala-butterflies-back-from-the-brink/