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Answers To Your Butterfly Questions

Jaret Daniels is one of the butterfly experts at the University of Florida.  He’s the one we’ve helped (along with the Miami Blue Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA)) on rare butterfly surveys in southern Florida and the upper keys. Jaret is also responsible for some of the photos and the distribution of the educational butterfly plant brochures we’ve been able to share in our booth at art festivals around the state.  I’ve asked him some of your burning butterfly questions; here’s what he said.

On The Lifespan Of Monarch Butterflies

Question:
As I’ve mentioned in our booth (and on our website at Life Cycle of Monarch Butterfly), adult Monarch Butterflies live two to six weeks, but every fourth generation the adult will live six to eight months so they can make the migration.  I’ve also mentioned that we have in south Florida (and the Caribbean) a population of Monarchs that doesn’t migrate (see also the Wikipedia article “Monarch butterfly migration”).  So naturally, the big question is “Does the fourth generation of the non-migrating Monarchs still live six to eight months?
Answer:
No

On The Range Of Atala Butterflies

Question:
Since their rediscovery in 1979 (see Atala Butterfly) on Key Biscayne, the range of the Atala seems to be slowly expanding northward. Apparently, their traditional range was restricted to Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties (Florida’s southernmost counties)study, but recent sightings have been as far north as Vero Beach on the Atlantic coast and Tampa on the Gulf coast of the peninsulamap. The range of coontie, the host plant on which the Atala depends, on the other hand, includes most of the Florida peninsula (see Page 2 of Florida Coonties and Atala Butterflies), which makes friends in central and northern Florida wonder “Could Atala’s live here?
Answer:
Probably not; the Atalas seem to be less cold-tolerant than the coontie.
(If it were me, I might still be inclined to go for it.)

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