New Beautiful Butterfly Garden at Paleaku

Creating the new Butterfly installation was inspired by the idea of the Butterfly Effect. The Butterfly Effect rests on the notion that the world is deeply connected, such that one small occurrence can influence a much larger complex system. The turmoil of the world is such that I thought that this small gesture would aid in bringing harmony and peace. All that come to visit this beautiful butterfly garden will take with them the nectars of harmony. Hopefully, each will carry it far and develop the fruits into Kindness and Aloha.

The butterfly represents metamorphous and the stages of its development from a caterpillar to a gentle winged creature inspire individuals to connect with each other in a graceful dance. As you sit and watch the many different butterflies stopping at the various flowers to drink their ambrosias one can sense the delicate dance of life. The main nectar plants you see here are lantana, butterfly bush or dwarf buddleia, blue salvia and the host plants are milk weed, crown flower and a’ali’i.

Described below are some of the butterflies you may see while at the Gardens.

Kamehameha Butterfly

The official state insect of Hawaii is the Kamehameha butterfly, one of the only two native butterfly species in the state. The Kamehameha butterfly is also called the “pulelehua,” which is the Hawaiian word for butterfly. These butterflies have striking patchwork patterns with rich orange and bold black colors. Delicate white spots adorn the tips of the female butterflies’ forewings. Conversely, males have small, pale orange spots on the edges of their forewings.

Koa Butterfly

The only other native butterfly in Hawaii is the Hawaii blue (also known as “Blackburn’s butterfly” or the “Koa butterfly”). Although it isn’t in as much danger as the Kamehameha butterfly, populations of Hawaiian blue butterflies are declining quickly. These delicate and striking butterflies are small, with a wingspan of only an inch wide. However, their tiny wings are mesmerizing, with iridescent azure blue scales that shimmer in the sunlight and are framed with a fine wooly fuzz. In addition, you can see the light turquoise green undersides when they hold their wings upright.

Hawaiian blue butterfly caterpillars mainly eat koa and ‘a’ali’i. These plants grow in many different habitats, both dry and wet — which is why the Hawaiian blue is more widespread than the Kamehameha butterfly. Like the Kamehameha butterfly, however, the Hawaiian blue once lived in both high and low elevations but now mainly stays in upland areas.

Monarch Butterfly

One of the most iconic butterflies in the world also happens to be common in Hawaii: the monarch butterfly. These butterflies are not native to the islands but began showing up in Hawaii around the 1950s. They migrate thousands of miles each year, crossing oceans and countries as they head to the mountains of central Mexico. Monarch butterflies have bright orange wings and black veins that look like stained-glass patterns. Their wings are also rimmed with a black border and several tiny white dots. This coloring tells predators that the butterflies are poisonous. While they are common throughout the islands of Hawaii, monarch butterflies are an endangered species. Their populations have tragically decreased by more than 80% over the past three decades!

Swallowtail Butterfly

Although they are native to eastern Asia, Xuthus swallowtail butterflies were introduced to Hawaii during the 1970s. Today they are relatively common on the islands, particularly in more urban areas with citrus trees. These butterflies have yellow wings with striking black patterns. Their hindwings come to a point in the back like a swallowtail, with iridescent blue and orange scales just above them. Swallowtail caterpillars love munching on many types of plants, especially those from the Rutaceae family, like oranges and lemons. They can potentially eat all the leaves on a plant, but typically predators keep them under control. Xuthus swallowtail butterflies are also called “Chinese yellow swallowtails” and “Asian swallowtails.”

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

Native to South and Central America, the gulf fritillary butterfly has spread across much of the southern United States, from California all the way to Florida. These medium-sized butterflies have bold, fiery orange wings with black veins and black markings along the edges. There are also three white dots with black outlines toward the outer edge of their elongated forewings. When their wings fold up, they expose the brown and cream-colored undersides, which are patterned with iridescent silver patches. Gulf fritillary butterfly caterpillars are just as striking as their adult butterfly form, with vibrant orange bodies covered in spiky black spines.

Pea Blue Butterfly

Pea blue butterflies were first introduced to Hawaii back in the late 1800s and quickly spread throughout the islands. These small, stunning butterflies have shimmering gossamer wings with blue violet at the center. The edges of their wings are a light brown or coppery color, with two black spots just above the long thin tails on their hindwings. Female butterflies have less blue coloring than males but have white underwings with tan or dark brown markings. The caterpillars like to eat various types of pea and legume plants from the Fabaceae family.

Please take lots of photos and if you wish to make a donation to this installation,
you can do so online or in person. Thank you!

Mahalo to Jeannie Bandolina for her major funding for the Butterfly Garden and her continued support.