Kamehameha butterfly

The Kamehameha butterfly (Vanessa tameamea) is one of the two species of butterfly endemic to Hawaii, the other is Udara blackburni.[1] The Hawaiian name is pulelehua. This is today a catch-all native term for all butterflies; its origin seems to be pulelo "to float" or "to undulate in the air" + lehua, "reddish," or "rainbow colored," probably due to the predominant color of the Metrosideros polymorpha flower: an animal that floats through the air, from one lehua to another. Alternatively, it is called lepelepe-o-Hina – roughly, "Hina's fringewing" – which is today also used for the introduced monarch butterfly.

The Kamehameha butterfly was named the state insect of Hawaii in 2009, due to the work of a group of fifth-graders from Pearl Ridge Elementary.[2] These 5th graders (Robyn-Ashley Amano, Ryan Asuka, Kristi Kimura, Jennifer Loui, Toshiro Yanai and Jenna Yanke) proposed the butterfly as the state insect to various legislators as a project for Gifted and Talented.

Kamehameha butterfly
Not evaluated (IUCN 3.1)
Scientific classification
V. tameamea
Binomial name
Vanessa tameamea
(Eschscholtz, 1821)


The caterpillars feed on the leaves of plants in the family Urticaceae,[3] especially those of māmaki (Pipturus albidus)[4] but also ōpuhe (Urera spp.), ʻākōlea (Boehmeria grandis), olonā (Touchardia latifolia), and maʻoloa (Neraudia spp.).[3] Adults eat the sap of koa (Acacia koa) trees.[5]


It is named after the royal House of Kamehameha; the last king of this lineage, Kamehameha V, had died in 1872, a short time before this species was described. The specific name tameamea is an old-fashioned and partially wrong transcription of "Kamehameha". The Hawaiian language has no strict distinction between the voiceless alveolar plosive and voiceless velar plosive; use varies from island to island, but today, "k" is used as the standard transliteration. The voiceless glottal transition "h" is distinct and should always be pronounced - for example, "aloha" is correct whereas "aloa" is a wrong pronunciation. Thus, while "Tamehameha" would be a legitimate transcription (though considered old-fashioned on most islands), "Tameamea" is not.


  1. ^ Oboyski, Peter T. "Kamehameha Butterfly (Vanessa tameamea)". University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
  2. ^ Cooper, Jeanne (2009-08-21). "Emblems of Hawaii a surprise to many Americans". San Francisco Chronicle.
  3. ^ a b Scott, James A. (1992). The Butterflies of North America: A Natural History and Field Guide. Stanford University Press. p. 281. ISBN 978-0-8047-2013-7.
  4. ^ Little Jr., Elbert L.; Roger G. Skolmen (1989). "Mamaki" (PDF). Common Forest Trees of Hawaii (Native and Introduced). United States Forest Service.
  5. ^ Scott, Susan (1991). Plants and Animals of Hawaii. Bess Press. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-935848-93-9.

External links

Media related to Vanessa tameamea at Wikimedia Commons

Acacia koa

Acacia koa is a species of flowering tree in the pea family, Fabaceae. It is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, where it is the second most common tree. The highest populations are on Hawaiʻi, Maui and Oʻahu. Its name in the Hawaiian language, koa, also means brave, bold, fearless, or warrior.

Amy B. H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden

The Amy B. H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden is a botanical garden near Captain Cook, Hawaii in the Kona District on the Big Island of Hawaii. The gardens closed for the public on January 31st, 2016.

Arcte coerula

Arcte coerula, the ramie moth, is a moth of the family Noctuidae. It is found from in south-east Asia, including Fiji, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Japan, New Guinea, Taiwan and Norfolk Island. It has been recently observed in Hawaii, on the island of Maui.


A BioBlitz, also written without capitals as bioblitz, is an intense period of biological surveying in an attempt to record all the living species within a designated area. Groups of scientists, naturalists and volunteers conduct an intensive field study over a continuous time period (e.g., usually 24 hours). There is a public component to many BioBlitzes, with the goal of getting the public interested in biodiversity. To encourage more public participation, these BioBlitzes are often held in urban parks or nature reserves close to cities.

Bob Flint

Bob Flint (born 1941), also known as Robert Flint, is an American ceramic artist. He arrived in Hawaii in 1960 for a summer of surfing and quickly realized that he wanted to stay. In 1961 he entered the University of Hawaii, earning his bachelor's and master's degrees in fine art, with a specialization in ceramics.

For twenty years Bob Flint worked from a studio at his home in Manoa, Hawaii. In 1998 he moved his studio to Haiku-Pauwela, Hawaii on the island of Maui, where he now resides and continues his ceramic work.

Throughout his career, Bob Flint has admired Native Hawaiian feather capes (ʻahuʻula) and has often abstracted their shape. Uila (Lightning) from 2012, in the collection of the Hawaii State Art Museum, demonstrates his adaptation of this Native Hawaiian art. He has also produced large-scale architectural installations for such clients as Amfac Hotels, Bank of Hawaii, Castle Memorial Hospital and the Sheraton at Poipu Beach. He has completed several public works of art for the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts:

A wall of ceramic fish in Waikiki at the intersection of Seaside and Kalakaua avenues.

Three ceramic murals in the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu. The murals surround three drinking fountain areas and are sculpted and carved tile depicting Blue Ginger, Shell Ginger and Torch Ginger.

A tile sculpture of a "kahili" (ceremonial standard marking the presence of a Hawaiian chief) installed at King Kekaulike High School.

Hawaiian Mountain Series I, a 1974 ceramic sculpture in Kauikeaouli Hale, Honolulu

Sandwich Isle, a 1977 ceramic sculpture at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu

Pulelehua (Kamehameha Butterfly), a 1986 ceramic mural at the University of Hawaii at Manoa

Endemism in the Hawaiian Islands

Located about 2300 miles (3680 km) from the nearest continental shore, the Hawaiian Islands are the most isolated group of islands on the planet. The plant and animal life of the Hawaiian archipelago is the result of early, very infrequent colonizations of arriving species and the slow evolution of those species—in isolation from the rest of the world's flora and fauna—over a period of at least 5 million years. As a consequence, Hawai'i is home to a large number of endemic species. The radiation of species described by Charles Darwin in the Galapagos Islands which was critical to the formulation of his theory of evolution is far exceeded in the more isolated Hawaiian Islands.

The relatively short time that the existing main islands of the archipelago have been above the surface of the ocean (less than 10 million years) is only a fraction of time span over which biological colonization and evolution have occurred in the archipelago. High, volcanic islands have existed in the Pacific far longer, extending in a chain to the northwest; these once mountainous islands are now reduced to submerged banks and coral atolls. Midway Atoll, for example, formed as a volcanic island some 28 million years ago. Kure Atoll, a little further to the northwest, is near the Darwin point—defined as waters of a temperature that allows coral reef development to just keep up with isostatic sinking. And extending back in time before Kure, an even older chain of islands spreads northward nearly to the Aleutian Islands; these former islands, all north of the Darwin point, are now completely submerged as the Emperor Seamounts.

The islands are well known for the environmental diversity that occurs on high mountains within a trade winds field. On a single island, the climate can differ around the coast from dry tropical (< 20 in or 500 mm annual rainfall) to wet tropical; and up the slopes from tropical rainforest (> 200 in or 5000 mm per year) through a temperate climate into alpine conditions of cold and dry climate. The rainy climate impacts soil development, which largely determines ground permeability, which affects the distribution of streams, wetlands, and wet places.

The distance and remoteness of the Hawaiian archipelago is a biological filter. Seeds or spores attached to a lost migrating bird's feather or an insect falling out of the high winds found a place to survive in the islands and whatever else was needed to reproduce. The narrowing of the gene pool meant that at the very beginning, the population of a colonizing species was a bit different from that of the remove, contributing population.

List of Hawaii state symbols

The following is a list of symbols of the U.S. state of Hawaii.

List of U.S. state insects

State insects are designated by 48 individual states of the fifty United States. Some states have more than one designated insect, or have multiple categories (e.g., state insect and state butterfly, etc.). More than half of the insects chosen are not native to North America, because of the inclusion of three European species (European honey bee, European mantis, and 7-spotted ladybird), each having been chosen by multiple states.

Pipturus albidus

Pipturus albidus, known as māmaki (sometimes waimea, for its resemblance to olomea) in Hawaiian and known as Waimea pipturus in English, is a species of flowering plant in the nettle family, Urticaceae, that is endemic to Hawaiʻi. It inhabits coastal mesic, mixed mesic, and wet forests at elevations of 60–1,830 m (200–6,000 ft). Māmaki is a small tree that reaches a height of 9 m (30 ft) and a trunk diameter of 0.3 m (0.98 ft).

University of Hawaii at Manoa

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (also known as U.H. Mānoa, the University of Hawaiʻi, or simply U.H.) is a public co-educational research university as well as the flagship campus of the University of Hawaiʻi system. The school is located in Mānoa, an affluent neighborhood of Honolulu, Honolulu County, Hawaiʻi, United States, approximately three miles east and inland from downtown Honolulu and one mile (1.6 km) from Ala Moana and Waikīkī. The campus occupies the eastern half of the mouth of Mānoa Valley. The John A. Burns School of Medicine, part of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, is located in Kakaʻako, adjacent to the Kakaʻako Waterfront Park. The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges from the western mainland U.S. and is governed by the Hawaii State Legislature and a semi-autonomous board of regents, which in turn, hires a president to be administrator. This university campus also houses the main offices of the entire University of Hawaiʻi system.The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, along with Cornell University, Oregon State University and Pennsylvania State University, are the only institutions to be members of all four Land Grant, Sea Grant, Space Grant, and Sun Grant programs.

Vanessa (butterfly)

Vanessa is a genus of brush-footed butterflies in the tribe Nymphalini. It has a near-global distribution and includes conspicuous species such as the red admirals (e.g., red admiral, Indian red admiral, New Zealand red admiral), the Kamehameha, and the painted ladies of subgenus Cynthia: painted lady, American painted lady, West Coast lady, Australian painted lady, etc. For African admirals see genus, Antanartia. Recently, several members traditionally considered to be in the genus Antanartia have been determined to belong within the genus Vanessa.The name of the genus may have been taken from the character Vanessa in Jonathan Swift's poem "Cadenus and Vanessa," which is the source of the woman's name Vanessa. In the poem Vanessa is called a "nymph" eleven times, and the genus is closely related to the previously-named genus Nymphalis. Though the name has been suggested to be a variant of "Phanessa", from the name of an Ancient Greek deity, this is unlikely. The name of the deity is actually not "Phanessa" but Phanes. Johan Christian Fabricius, the entomologist who named this genus, normally used the original forms of the names of classical divinities when he created new scientific names.

North American species in the genus overwinter as adults.


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