Home / Gossamer-Winged (Lycaenidae) / Atala (Eumaeus atala)

Atala (Eumaeus atala)

Atala Butterfly Source:Scott Zona

Atala butterfly, also known as coontie hairstreak or just atala, is an attractive species from Florida, some other parts of the United States and the Caribbean Islands. Their Florida population has been listed as endangered by the State of Florida, but re-colonizing attempts from the Bahaman population is yielding positive results.

Scientific Classification


  • Family: Lycaenidae
  • Genus: Eumaeus
  • Scientific Name: Eumaeus atala

Identification

Caterpillar

Atala Butterfly Caterpillar Source:flickr.com

Atala Butterfly Caterpillar Pictures Source: entnemdept.ufl.edu

Pale flesh colored when newly hatched; develops a striking bright red coloration with two rows of yellow dots on the back.

Pupa

Atala Butterfly Chrysalis Source: hiveminer.com

During the warm seasons, the chrysalis is golden brown, marked with black spots, while in winter it is dark brown marked with black spots.

Adult Butterfly

Sexual dimorphism: Males are slightly smaller than females

Pictures of Atala Butterfly Source:reesephoto.me

In a folded position, the outer surface is black with three rows of brilliant blue or teal iridescent spots in both sexes. The eyes and the legs are also marked with the same blue. The lower middle portion of the wing has a bright red or orange blotch, that also marks the lower part of the butterfly’s torso.

In a spread out position, the inner surface of the wings in a male is of an iridescent teal (in colder seasons) or Caribbean blue (in warmer seasons), marked with black vein-like pattern. Females have bright iridescent royal blue marking high on the forewings, along with a row on blue dots in the lower end of the hindwings.

Atala Butterfly Pictures Source:lepcurious.blogspot.in

Atala Butterfly Images Source:butterfliesandmoths.org

Average wingspan: 1.5 – 2 inches

Flight pattern: Slow and moth-like

Eggs

Atala Butterfly Eggs Pictures Source:lepcurious.blogspot.in

Atala Butterfly Eggs Source:flickr.com

Pale cream colored with a rough textured outer surface; 1-1.5 mm in diameter.

Quick Facts

Distribution Florida, Cuba, and the Bahamas
Habitat tropical open woodlands, grasslands, gardens, and shrub areas
Lifespan of adults 3 weeks to 3 months
Breeding season Throughout the year
Host plants Coontie (Zamia pumila), a shrubby plant native to its distribution range; certain introduced plants in the Cycadaceae family
Adult diet Flower nectar (periwinkle, lantana, wild coffee, and shepherd’s needle)

Did You Know?

  • The size of the adult butterflies depends on the quality and availability of host plants during the larval stage.
  • The iridescent markings on their wings are unique for each individual
  • The species name is derived from the literary character Atala, the Indian princess from a French novel of the same name by François-René de Chateaubriand.
  • The caterpillar feeds on toxic plants (cycad) and retains the toxins in their body for protecting themselves against predators. Their bright coloration, being an example of aposematism, warns any potential predator to stay away.

Images of Atala Butterfly Source:zoilamartin.com

Atala Butterfly Life Cycle Source: pinterest.com

Atala Butterfly Host Plant Source:butterfly-lady.com

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