The Atala butterfly is very small, but it has gone through big challenges. It’s host plant, the Coontie, was almost wiped out causing this little butterfly to come close to extinction. Commercial factories in South Florida were processing Coontie roots for starch. People are now beginning to use the Coontie plant in landscaping which is helping the Atala butterfly. The Atala is starting to reappear along Florida’s east coast.
Atala caterpillars are red with yellow bumps. The larvae reach 1.25 inches in length. The Atala caterpillars are highly toxic to predators. These little caterpillars feed in groups when young and then live solitary when older.
I was very excited to get a picture of an Atala chrysalis. They are so small! As a chrysalis, the Atala butterflies don’t use a cremaster to attach themselves to a leave, instead they hang from a silk girdle.
If you live in Florida’s east coast you can help the Atala by planting the Coontie plant. To see more pictures of the Atala you can visit http://www.butterflyfunfacts.com/atala.php