‘ATALA FASCINATING’: THE LIFECYCLE OF THE ATALA HAIRSTREAK ON ABACO
I have posted about several of the wonderful butterfly species the live on Abaco, but my favourite will always be the small but beautiful Atala Hairstreak Eumaeus atala. Its ‘look-at-me’ bright orange abdomen, black wings and the curious luminescent bright blue spots that even cover its legs and head are unmistakeable. These butterflies favour the coontie plant – especially for egg-laying – but they can be seen almost anywhere as far as I can see, though I have never seen one right by a beach.
I’ve posted before about the lifecycle of the Atala, but I have never had a chance to show the complete post-egg process from caterpillar to triumphantly emergent butterfly actually recorded on Abaco until now. Thanks to Rhonda Pearce, her patience and her skill with a camera, the following sequence of photos shows in detail the various stages of metamorphosis.
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
- The little hairs on the caterpillars (larvae)
- The dark gluey-looking shed skins
- The delicate silky threads as the chrysalis forms
- The butterfly emerges upside down, enabling it to uncrumple & spread its wings to dry
ATALA HAIRSTREAK LIFECYCLE (you’ll find more info about the process here)
ABACO BUTTERFLY PAGE (other species found on Abaco)
Photo Credits: All Rhonda Pearce except the header of a full adult imago, RH
PS Sorry, I’ve been very po-faced and not mentioned Halloween. Everyone else is covered in blood, guts and gore, so I reckon the market is saturated. Also I get the wrong end of the ‘Trick or Treat’ stick. I carefully prepare 2 lots of choccy-based sweets. One is delicious. The other contains chilli. If the callers are nice, they get the Treat. If not, they get the Trick. That must be right, surely. I can listen to them hawking and barfing as they run off into the night…. [No children were hurt in the making of this story…]