Photo: Sally Scalera, Florida Today
“Florida Today ran an article in 2017 about the Atala butterfly that was previously thought to be extinct but had been discovered again.
Since that time, the butterflies have made a resurgence and have expanded their range.
The Atala’s primary host plant is our native coontie, Zamia integrifolia, and because they are a popular landscape ornamental, the butterfly has made its way up to many parts of Brevard County.
The coontie is native to most of the Florida peninsula, where its natural habitat has well-drained soil dominated by pine trees. It is hardy from zones 8B through 11, and can survive winter temperatures as low as 15 degrees.
Originally, they were found throughout hammocks and pinelands, but due to the excessive collection of its starchy root and use in the landscape, it is rarely found in the wild now. Collection of wild coontie plants is prohibited, because they are on Florida’s Commercially Exploited Plant List…
If you would like to support atala butterflies, plant coontie and nectar plants in your yard, then keep your eyes peeled for the small little butterflies, with the blue stripe and red spot. ”
— Sally Scalera, Florida Today