Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Atala Update by Sandy Koi

Photo by Ron Nuehring
Some of you may know that I have been studying and monitoring the atala butterfly for six years in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. Although I have not been able to visit as many sites lately as I could before, I do get updates from people who have atalas in their gardens, and from organizations, such as Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens. The atala populations in recent years have experienced  fairly low numbers, or have not yet made an appearance, even in areas that have had a stable colony in the past—and locations that, by this time in the summer, ‘should be’ irrupting with hundreds of individuals.

Unfortunately, some of the few extant sites have experienced suspected “robberies” of larvae and pupae from colonies that have not been stable to begin with, and that has caused some concern about the colonies’ survival.  It is quite a turn-around from previous years, when those same organizations were scrambling to find new release sites for the irrupting atala colonies numbering in the hundreds!

I am privileged to be working with Dean Jue and the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) and the Broward County NABA chapter, searching for and documenting imperiled butterfly species, including the atala. Since I am living in Miami for the summer, I’ve also had the opportunity to find a few atala sites in Miami-Dade County, and am looking forward to working more closely with Miami Blue. You can read more about FNAI and the atalas on my “Atala News” blog--dedicated to Butterfly Conservation!

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