The Atala Hairstreak Butterfly

atala hairstreak (Eumaeus atala) close up of a black, orange and blue butterfly

The atala hairstreak (Eumaeus atala) was believed to be extinct in Florida until 1979. The atala hairstreaks were very abundant in the early 1900’s, but it gradually got harder to live because its host plant, coontie (Zamia pumila), was being overharvested for their roots. The decline also had a lot to do with development of the land.

The atala hairstreak’s wingspan gets no bigger than 24mm. and is the smallest butterfly available to Reiman Gardens. The inside of the forewing is black around the edges with iridescent blue green in the center, while the outside of the forewings is just black. The inside of the hindwings are black with blue iridescent spots along the edge of the wings, and their abdomen is orange. This species of hairstreak actually can emerge from their pupae on the ground; it doesn’t need to be hanging like most butterflies.

— Kayla Cox, Entomology Intern at Reiman Gardens