2012/6/19 Category: Conservation News
Brevard Zoo is now home to a growing population of Atala butterfly (Eumaeus atala), one of Florida's most colorful insects!
Large scale harvesting of native cycads, called coontie, for starch during the late 1800's greatly reduced the number of coontie, resulting in a sharp decline of the Atala butterfly. Development of habitat favored by the Atala also had a huge impact, and by 1965 there was only one colony left. The Atala has made a recovery but additional efforts are needed to stabilize the population.
The Zoo has agreed to provide a safe home for the captive propagation of the Atala butterfly in order to provide specimens for a reintroduction program.
Take a look at these photos of the Zoo’s growing Atala collection:
Freshly laid Atala eggs on the fiddlehead of a coontie plant.
Larvae preparing to pupate.
Pupae or chrysalis.
Adult female taking a break from ovipositing (laying eggs).
Zoo staff will release several adult Atala into the aviary, located in the Zoo’s Australia-Asia loop, on Wednesday, June 20. On your next visit to the Zoo, be sure to stop by for a chance to see these brightly colored insects up close!