For the last few years, we've been looking for an opportunity to display and possibly raise Atala butterflies here at MOSI Outside (Museum of Science and Industry, Tampa), and time has finally arrived! This species is found only in South Florida right now, but may have originally had a much wider range. The story of this butterfly is closely linked to that of its host plant, coontie. They serve as both a cautionary tale and an exciting success story.
Danaus plexippus. The Monarch butterfly is noted in the U. S. A. for its great migratory treks in the Spring from California and Florida up towards Canada, and in the autumn, later generations of butterflies traveling South again in enormous swarms.
The State Butterfly for Florida is the Zebra Longwing. It has long, narrow wings with distinctive black and yellow stripes. It's difficult to miss as it gently flies flower to flower. Zebra Longwings are most abundant here in South Florida and are one of our longer lived butterflies, having a life span of several months as compared to weeks for other species. As you travel about Lehigh look for the distinctive markings of the Zebra Longwing. -AstronomyGal