Eumaeus atala, Atala

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Eumaeus atala, Atala

Freshly emerged adult resting on leaves of host plant

Description: 21-24 mm. The atala is a spectacular butterfly. Both sexes have a bright red abdomen and metalic blue spots on top of the jet black ventral hindwing. Males above have a metalic green forewing and green spots along the hindwing margin. Females have blue markings dorsally. Adults never land with their wings open though making photographing their amazing dorsal colors near impossible. 

 

Habitat and Distribution: The atala lives pretty much wherever its host plant grows in South Florida. The natural habitat is pine lands of south Dade County. I've found this species in association with their landscaped host plant in Key Largo and Islamorda. They breed all year long so as long as they do not get sprayed or eat themselves out of "house and home" they can be found in all months but are not typically found in the Keys

 

Host Plant: Coontie (Zamia Pumila)

 

Natural History: This butterfly is toxic for predators due to the toxic nature of its host and the adults act accordingly almost as if they know that nothing's going to mess with them. They are slow and approachable and when you plant the host in a garden, they can be a spectacular guest to your garden. They are also very easy to photograph. They seeminly have no natural predators thus if left unchecked, they will reproduce at an alarming rate and larvae will devour large amounts of host plant (which is very slow growing). This causes landscaped coontie to be defoliated which often leads to praying. 

 

Eumaeus atala, Atala

Freshly emeged adult

Eumaeus atala, Atala

Freshly emeged adult

Eumaeus atala, Atala larvae

Larvae

Final instar larvae

Eumaeus atala, Atala pupa

Chrysalids

Eumaeus atala, Atala larva

Larvae

Emerging adult

Eumaeus atala, Atala

Freshly emerged adult resting

on leaves of host plant

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