Hawaii Biological Survey’s


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50. Kamehameha Butterfly

Scientific name: Vanessa tameamea

Hawaiian Name: pulelehua

Classification: Phylum: Arthropoda. Class: Insecta. Order: Lepidoptera. Family: Nymphalidae

Origin: Endemic.

Status: Small populations.

Distribution: All main islands.

Map: —

This is the adult of one of only two native butterflies in Hawai‘i. The caterpillar feeds on Hawaiian nettle (mamake), becomes a chrysalis, and then transforms into the adult. Adults are uncommonly seen in forests, mostly in search of mamake plants, which it helps pollinate and upon which it lays its eggs for another brood to hatch and develop.

   Photo by David Preston ©HBS