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Atala 
Latin Name: Eumaeus atala
 
Genus: Eumaeus    Species: atala 
Family
Latin Name: Lycaenidae
Common Name: Gossamer Wings
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Family Members
 
SubFamily
Latin Name: Theclinae
Common Name: Hairstreaks
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SubFamily Members

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Comments:
The boldly colored Atala lacks the hindwing tails characteristic of most hairstreaks. Once abundant throughout southern portions of mainland Florida, commercial harvesting of the butterfly's host plant for starch during the late 1800s severely reduced population numbers. Continued urbanization and the resulting loss of critical costal habitat pushed the species even closer to extinction. By 1965, the Atala had been reduced to a single known colony. However, persistent efforts by conservationists, combined with the rapid growth in popularity of cycads for landscape use, helped the butterfly make a remarkable recovery.
   
Life Cycle:
Broods:
multiple generations
Egg:
white, laid in clusters on new growth of host
Larva:
white, laid in clusters on new growth of host Larva: bright red with yellow spots along the back
Host Plants:
Coontie
   
Host Plants:
Host Plants:
Coontie
   
Habitat:
Habitat:
hammocks and adjacent areas with host
   
     
     
   
Wingspan:
Inches:
1.6 - 1.9
Centimeters:
4.1 - 4.8
   
Appearance:
Sexes:
similar, although female has metallic blue scaling along costal margin of forewing
Compare:
unique
   
     
     
Markings:
 

Above:

  • male is velvety black with metallic green on forewing, basal area of hindwing and along hindwing margin; female is black with metallic blue on forewing and along hindwing margin; abdomen bright reddish orange; lacks tail  
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Below:

  • black with numerous small metallic blue spots on hindwing and bright reddish orange patch near abdomen  
 
Florida Distribution:
Abundance:
occasional; very localized
   

 

     

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Map Legend: Resident (green) | Stray (Red)


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