Eumaeus atala: Coontie Hairstreak Butterfly

DSCF6968 400copy

^ Battered but beautiful

The Atala, Eumaeus atala, is a small colorful butterfly in the family Lycaenidae. It is found in southeastern Florida, the Bahamas, Cuba, the Cayman Islands [probable on other Caribbean islands in archipelago]. Its coloration and habits are unique among butterflies within its range.

The Atala is a great example of aposematic [warning] coloration throughout its life cycle. The brightly colored larva or caterpillar feeds on cycads which contain a toxic secondary plant chemical [“cycasin”] which it retains in its body for life. Birds, lizards, and other animals may attempt to prey on the larva, pupa, and adults, but find them distasteful and learn to avoid these brightly patterned insects. In Florida, the larva [caterpillar] feeds on a native cycad, Zamia pumila, called Coontie, as well as introduced ornamental cycads. Another name for the butterfly is Coontie Hairstreak.

Photo: Florida Museum of Natural History, Butterfly Rainforest, Gainesville, Florida  [20140727]

Source: Wikipedia

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s