So, as you know… I am a BIG gardener! I love plants and I love animals! I am blessed to have a magnificent butterfly garden in my yard.
I have been very mindful of my butterfly garden lately, by researching the different butterflies that we have. My kids and I have created a science experiment to learn more about them. What plants do they like to eat (nectar plants) and what plants do they lay eggs on (host plants).
While searching for books in Barnes and Nobles Florida section we stumbled across some fantastic books about South Florida butterflies. After researching, we started buying more plants that would attract and keep our butterflies in the yard as well as attracting new kinds of butterflies.
What fascinated me was the Atala butterfly. She is gorgeous! As, you know, my favorite color is blue and anything blue just elevates my mood and makes life seem more beautiful. Well, the Atala butterfly has black wings with neon blue markings and a hot red-orange body. Just spectacular!
I found out that this poor little South Florida butterfly was near extinction, at one point. The Atala only lays its eggs on one plant, the Coontie. This plant used to be all over Florida and was over harvested due to its ability to provide starch. It was also over harvested due to massive development building and was never replaced.
Time showed that the removal of the Coontie plant caused a massive wipe-out of this amazing butterfly. A couple decades ago, Florida started to plant these plants in an effort to bring back the numbers of the Atala butterfly.
I wanted to be a part of this effort and as a family, we are committed. Typically, the Atala butterfly is known to be more of a coastal butterfly and not so inland, like I am. Fortunately, when I 595 was expanded and redone in Davie, the county planted a lot of Coontie plants along I 595 and SR 84 in Davie (right by me!)
I have researched these plants and found that the Atala was in town! There were caterpillars and pupa chrysalis everywhere! YES!!! So, I purchased some Coontie plants, surrounded them by Atala nectar plants and crossed my fingers!
I have now have my own Atala! As a matter of fact, I have had five hatch! One was just born on 6/1 and three more on 6/2! I am hoping now that they mate and create more caterpillars and amazing Atala butterflies.
It just makes me feel so blessed and so incredibly happy that I am part of the efforts to bring back the Atala butterfly to South Florida. They are the most amazing and most beautiful little butterflies! (The picture that you see is my first born.)
I hope that I have sparked your curiosity and maybe you will also be mindful of the plants that you have in your garden.
I have to say, that when I go outside and I am surrounded by about a dozen butterflies….What could be better?