Floridata Article

Malachite (Siproeta stelenes)

Habitat: Shrubby disturbed sites, margins of tropical hardwood hammocks Garden Abundance: Rare Wingspan: 3-4in Range: Southern Florida, occasionally as far north as Sarasota Larval Host Plants: Green shrimp plant (Blechum brownei) Favorite Adult Nectar Sources: Prefers rotting fruit over flower nectar; lantana (Lantana camara) is used infrequently.

Named for the mineral of the same color, the malachite is often considered the most beautiful butterfly in Florida. A relatively recent colonist in the state, this species has a somewhat spotty and localized distribution but is gradually becoming more widespread. The wings below are tawny brown with large pale green patches, giving the butterfly an overall pearlized appearance. In contrast, the wings above are velvety brown with brilliant green markings. This is the only butterfly in Florida with green on the wings. The malachite is a large butterfly with a fast, powerful flight. Seldom seen in garden situations, it prefers the juice of rotting fruit instead of flower nectar.

The small eggs are laid singly on the leaves of the host plant. The mature larva is velvety black with numerous black spines and reddish markings. There are two long horns that curve back from the base of the head. The chrysalis is light green and hangs suspended from a branch, leaf, or twig. Numerous generations are produced each year in Florida and adults occur in all months.

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