use Coontie as
their host plant
. The butterflies remain in
their area, and need a
dozen or more plants in your yard or butterfly garden to survive as a
colony, unless your neighbor has enough to make up the difference.
Those two Coontie plants are young and green and uneaten. They look
great. If you're planting Coontie for butterflies
they won't look that way for long, so plant them behind some other
pretty plant. Then you won't mind as much when these red and yellow
caterpillars nibble on the leaves. These are
Atala Butterfly Caterpillars
have black wings with a few patches of blue scales
(yes, butterfly wings are covered in tiny scales) and a bright red
...and white dots on your Coontie plants might be something else. Let's
look at the other creatures
on Coontie, like these scale bugs
The brown circle and white fuzz are scale. The long bug on the bottom
right is a ladybug larva
. When scale
attacks a plant, ladybugs often lay eggs nearby so their young can eat
I was concerned about disappearing caterpillars when I noticed this
Cuban Knight Anole
that seemed to be watching the last two caterpillars
on the plant.
Correlation does not equal causation, and I did not actually see the
green lizard eat the caterpillars
, but they were gone the next day and
there wasn't a butterfly
chrysalis in sight. The plump
quite content and well fed though.
Knight anole's have teeth, and they aren't afraid to use them. This
smaller green lizard, a green anole
, is a sweeter little creature.
just pinch a little when they bite, which is unlikely unless you're
quick enough to grab one - also unlikely. The knight anole's are larger
than green anoles, they have sharp little teeth, and they have yellow on their cheeks, while the green
anoles do not.
I usually see the butterflies
lay their eggs on the underside of the
most tender new Coontie leaves, but when all of the leaves are nibbled,
they'll lay their eggs on the Coontie seed cones as well:
use Coontie as
their Host Plant
. They only lay eggs on
Coontie. This Tersa Sphinx Moth
just used it for a brief resting place:
Coontie (Zamia floridana, or Zamia pumila) has an interesting history.
It was harvested for food (don't try this at home, the root is poisonous
without proper processing to remove a water soluble toxin, and besides,
the butterflies need it), and so much of it was removed that the Atala
was thought to be extinct when they made the endangered species list.