The life cycle of the Atala Butterfly (Eumaeus atala), also known as the Coontie Hairstreak. This butterfly is native to southeastern Florida and the Caribbean Islands.
In the state of Florida it is still considered endangered due to loss of habitat and to some extent loss of its host plant, Zamia integrifolia (Coontie). First, in the 1800’s, several factories in Florida produced starch from the underground swollen root of the Coontie plant. Then in the early 1930’s and up until present day, habitat was lost due to development. Then, added to starch production and habitat loss, was the over collecting for the plant trade. All of these factors, almost led to the extinction of the Atala butterfly, which needs this plant to carry out its life cycle. Today, the butterfly’s numbers have rebounded, but its population remains fragmented due to the continued development in southeastern Florida, especially Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
Zamia integrifolia is now protected, and is illegal to harvest from the wild. Coupled with this, the plant is in abundant supply in cultivation, and regularly sold in nurseries for the homeowner to plant to attract this beautiful butterfly. Richard Lyons Nursery currently has this plant in stock.