On Aug 16, 2006, Magpye from NW Qtr, AR (Zone 6a) wrote:
Wing span: 1 1/2 - 2 inches (3.8 - 5.1 cm).
Identification: Abdomen red-orange. Upperside of male wings soft black with iridescent green overlay and markings; female has blue iridescence at basal areas. Underside dull black, hindwing with large red-orange spot and 3 rows of irregular iridescent gold spots.
Life history: Eggs are laid in groups on upperside of leaf tips. Caterpillars feed in groups out in the open.
Flight: Many flights throughout the year, but most common in early summer.
Caterpillar hosts: Coontie (Zamia pumila), a shrubby, fernlike native cycad of Florida and the Bahamas; several other introduced plants of the family Cycadaceae.
Adult food: Nectar from flowers including lantana, periwinkle, shepherd's needle, and wild coffee.
Habitat: Subtropical shady hammocks and neighboring open areas; gardens with ornamental cycads.
Range: Southeastern Florida and the Keys, the Bahamas, and Cuba.
Conservation: Eumaeus atala florida is ranked endangered by the State of Florida; may recolonize from the Bahamas.
Subspecies florida has The Nature Conservancy rank of T3 - Very rare or local throughout its range or found locally in a restricted range (21 to 100 occurrences). (Threatened throughout its range).
On Aug 28, 2006, artcons from Fort Lauderdale, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:
Any butterfly appearing in my yard is a positive. Although I have not seen this one in my yard, I know it's been here as I have this butterflies cat's on my Coontie plants & I have a photographed them here. This butterfly was once considered extinct here in S Florida due to the virtual elimination of their larvae plant the Coontie. A few years back, Coonties began appearing as a landscape favorite when they were imported into this region from northeren Florida. Since then, there are many park area's that have good sized populations of Atala's, but they are rare in urban area's.
I went through a lot of trouble to find, purchase and plant two Bahama Berry, Nashia inaguensis bushes to attract this butterfly. This is their favorite nectar bush in the Bahamas. If it works there, it should work here.
The butterfly is kind of slow flying and sort of friendly, probably due to it's aposematic coloration (warning, don't eat me 'cause I taste bad and may kill you)