The once abundant Atala butterflies were thought to be extinct from the 1930’s until 1959 when a few specimens were discovered. In 1979, a colony of Atala butterflies was found on an island off the Miami Coast. It is likely that the current population are descendants of the island butterflies.
When its host plant, the coontie palm, was overharvested in the early 1900’s, the Atala butterfly population was driven to near extinction. The article chronicles the story of the coontie palm’s demise and subsequent revival as a popular ornamental plant in commercial, residential, and community landscapes. With abundant host plants, the Atala butterfly remains rare yet far from extinct.