21 Types of Butterflies in Hawaii

Types of Butterflies in Hawaii
Photo by Ulrike Langner

Many people are fascinated by butterflies and for a good reason! Hawaii has many different types of butterflies, ranging from beautiful (like the Monarch) to unique (like the Zebra Longwing).

This guide will explore the types of butterflies in Hawaii and provide pictures, facts, and more about ease.

1. Kamehameha

The Kamehameha butterfly is one of the most well-known types of butterflies in Hawaii because it is a National Pollinator.

The Kamehameha is also known as a Hawaiian Crow. To get its name it was named after King Kamehameha I, who ruled from 1810 to 1819. 

These butterflies in Hawaii have wingspan sizes between 3 and 4 inches, and their color ranges from reddish brown or black with yellow margins on the underside. This butterfly is primarily found at elevations between 600 and 2400 feet.

2. Koa/Blackburn’s Blue

The Koa butterfly is one of the two endemic butterfly species in Hawaii. It has a black body with blue stripes and white-rimmed wings.

These types of butterflies in Hawaii feed on nectar and have very few predators because of their coloration and nocturnal habits. 

These types of butterflies in Hawaii are found throughout all Hawaiian Islands at altitudes from sea level to 9,000 feet above sea level but are rare on Maui.

These types of butterflies in Hawaii overwinter in cocoons before emerging as adults each spring.

3. Western Pygmy Blue

The Western Pygmy Blue, a type of butterfly native to Hawaii, was discovered by Thomas H. Jones in 1892. It can be found on Kauai and is also sometimes called the Kauai Blue. This species has been long believed extinct due to its scarcity and small population size. 

The Western Pygmy Blue’s wings are dark blue with black dots, making them both beautiful and unique.

These types of butterflies in Hawaii are about an inch long with a wingspan that ranges from 1-1/8 inches (2-2/5 cm) across the front wing and 3/4 inches (1-1/3 cm) across the back wing.

4. Gram Blue

The beautiful Gram Blue (Euphilotes grammica) is one of three types of butterflies in Hawaii that are endemic to this state.

The Gram Blues are often found on plants such as anise, sweet bush, and coffee trees but also feed on other types of plants, including hibiscus and bougainvillea.

It is important to note that these butterflies usually feed at high altitudes, so they are not seen. However, if you see Gram Blue, it is best to use your camera as they do not hang around for long!

5. Asian Swallowtail

The Asian Swallowtail is a large, brightly colored butterfly with a wingspan of up to 3 inches. This species is usually found near streams, rivers, gardens, and agricultural fields.

The female has an orange body with black stripes and blue on its upper wings, while males have yellow bodies and brown/black markings on their upper wings. 

These types of butterflies in Hawaii larvae are green with white spots along their back and feed exclusively on plants from the family Apocynaceae, such as oleander, milkweed, dogbane, etc.

6. Sleepy Orange

The Sleepy Orange is a species that lives on Oahu, Maui, and Molokai. These types of butterflies in Hawaii often camouflage themselves with their surroundings while resting during the day. These types of butterflies in Hawaii tend to be found at an elevation of up to 1300 feet. 

The Sleepy Orange is similar to the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly but can be distinguished by its smaller size and darker coloration.

The Sleepy Orange is nocturnal and feeds mainly on native Hawaiian plants, including maile, iliau, koa trees, ‘akoko berries, ‘ie’ie berries, olona berries, eucalyptus flowers, and leaves. 

The females are more significant than males and lay eggs singly or in clusters of 2-6 eggs. The eggs have a gelatinous coating that protects them from predation.

7. Painted Lady

The Painted Lady is a medium-sized butterfly with a wingspan of about 3.5 centimeters. It is found throughout much of the world and can be seen flying near flowers as it feeds on nectar. John Abbotts first recorded it during his voyage worldwide on HMS Sulphur between 1818 and 1820. 

The name derives from its coloration, which resembles oil paintings. These types of butterflies in Hawaii fly leisurely, visiting many flowers along their path.

Painted Ladies are often confused with other species, like Swallowtails or Monarchs, because they share similar features.

8. American Lady

The American Lady is one of the most common butterflies in Hawaii. These types of butterflies in Hawaii are usually found near flowers, where they drink nectar.

This type of butterfly has a wingspan that ranges between 3-4 inches and has three different color variations: yellow with black spots, white with black spots, and brown with black spots. 

The American Lady also has a pattern on its back that looks like an M or W. One way to identify it is by looking at the antennas.

In addition to being beautiful, these butterflies are crucial pollinators for many plants in Hawaii.

9. Cabbage White

Cabbage White is one of the most common butterflies in North America. It is also one of the most beautiful, with its patterned white wings and orange/red tips.

The Cabbage White can be found across North America and southern Canada, but it is more common at higher elevations. 

The Cabbage White is also known as a cabbage butterfly because it has been seen eating cabbage. Adults eat nectar from flowers, while caterpillars eat plants such as mustard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. Female Cabbage Whites lay their eggs on these plants so their larvae will have food when they hatch.

10. Large Orange Sulphur

The Large Orange Sulphur is a stunning creature found throughout most Hawaiian Islands. This butterfly’s wings are primarily white with black and orange markings. Male Large Orange Sulphur butterflies have a wide range of colors, including yellow, red, and brown. 

These types of butterflies in Hawaii also have a banded pattern on their wings that is used to attract females.

The Large Orange Sulphur is often confused with its close relative, the Narrow-winged Sulphur Butterfly. The two species look very similar; however, the Narrow-winged Sulphur has much narrower wings than its cousin.

11. Red Admiral

The Red Admiral butterfly is a bright red and black butterfly that lives throughout North America. These types of butterflies in Hawaii are common and can be found in gardens, meadows, and woods. It is one of the most well-known butterflies because it has been studied extensively. 

This butterfly is seen as an omen of bad luck in Hawaiian culture. Hawaiians say that if someone sees a red admiral butterfly before entering a home, they should never enter it, or they will face danger and death.

A symbol of love and devotion, these butterflies also represent rebirth after death because they emerge from cocoons with their old skins on. 

12. Monarch

The Monarchis is a unique butterfly that can be found all across North America. It can also be found in Canada, Central America, and South America. The mMonarch’swings are orange or black with white spots on the edges. 

It has two long antennae at its head which look like small horns. Monarchs fly extremely fast, and it is said that they can travel as many as 2,000 miles per day. Monarchs are amazing creatures that will continue to fascinate us for years! 

These types of butterflies in Hawaii live in many different climates and eat things such as nectar from flowers, fruit from trees, tree sap, rotting fruit, and sometimes even animals such as insects.

One thing that’s important to remember is that these butterflies cannot survive where temperatures drop below 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit).

13. California Tortoiseshell

The California Tortoiseshell is a large butterfly with a wingspan that ranges from 3.5 to 4.25 inches, and females are generally larger than males.

This butterfly is most commonly found in and around fields, meadows, pastures, orchards, and woodlands. The males have an orange underside and upper side, whereas the females are predominately black with yellow spots on their wings. 

The adults feed primarily on rotting fruit, while the caterpillars feed on leaves from various trees, including oak, cherry, persimmon, and walnut. The adults typically live for 1-2 weeks,s while the caterpillars usually mature for 2-3 months.

14. Amyntor Greenstreak

The Amyntor green streak is a small but eye-catching butterfly. Males have a blueish-green body with a pinkish band down the middle and red on their upper wingtips. Females are brown with yellow and white markings. 

This butterfly can be found in lowland wet forests and is considered an endangered species. These types of butterflies in Hawaii feed on ohelo berries, which grow only in Hawaii.

If you want to see one of these beautiful butterflies, they prefer tall trees with vines at least 15 feet off the ground.

15. Lantana Hairstreak Butterfly

The Lantana Hairstreak Butterfly is a small butterfly with a wingspan of 1.5 inches or less. It is the most commonly seen butterfly on the islands and is found in many different colors, which help camouflage it from predators.

The Lantana Hairstreak Butterfly has an orange body with brown antennae and has red or yellow spots on each wing. 

These types of butterflies in Hawaii feed on flowers such as lantana, hibiscus, and ginger plants. The female lays her eggs on these plants, where they will hatch into caterpillars that eat them before cocooning themselves for their pupa stage. 

The Lantana Hairstreak Butterfly typically resides in coastal areas but can be spotted inland when food sources are low. These types of butterflies in Hawaii feed on nectar from flowers and fruit tree sap.

16. Spring Azure

The Spring Azure is one of many butterflies that has beautiful blue wings. This butterfly can be found on Kauai, Oahu, and Maui. The butterflies are usually found near wet areas such as streams or ponds. 

These types of butterflies in Hawaii are also seen around areas with grasses, bushes, and flowers. Their larvae feed on algae and moss that grows on rocks near water sources. The Spring Azure is a medium-sized butterfly with a wingspan ranging from 3 to 4 inches. 

The female Spring Azure is darker than its male counterpart, which may help it avoid predators because they are easier to see against vegetation.

Like many other species of butterflies, the Spring Azure’s life cycle consists of four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

17. Long-Winged Greenstreak

The Long-Winged Greenstreak butterfly is a green and brown beautiful among the types of butterflies in Hawaii with a one-inch wingspan.

The male Long-Winged Greenstreak has a dark brown patch on its forewing, while the female’s forewing is uniformly dark brown. The hindwings are light brown with two irregular dark bands crossing them. 

Females typically have broader hindwings than males. These types of butterflies in Hawaii use this characteristic to determine each other’s sex.

For instance, if two butterflies engage in a mating ritual and both wings touch simultaneously, they know they are both male or female. 

The Long-Winged Greenstreak prefers wet places near water where nectar plants grow, such as Koa or Halapepe trees, usually below 1000 feet elevation but occasionally up to 2000 feet.

18. Fiery Skipper

The Fiery Skipper is among the types of butterflies in Hawaii about 3.5 centimeters wide and has a 6-7 centimeters wingspan.

It is red with black stripes, and its wings have yellow patches. The Fiery Skipper lives in high and low elevations, where its habitat ranges from grassy to shrubby. 

The Fiery Skipper is also known for being very aggressive towards other butterflies, especially other skippers like the Hawaiian Skipper. If these two types come into contact, they will often fight by grabbing each other’s wings or biting their opponent.

19. Banana Skipper

The Banana Skipper is a butterfly found in many parts of the world. The Banana Skipper is so named for its habit of perching on bananas, although it also likes to rest on other things like leaves, twigs, and open flowers. This species is common throughout Asia, Africa, and Australasia. 

The Banana Skipper has a wingspan ranging from 2.5-3 inches with a black body and white spots near its wings. Diurnal butterflies fly during the day rather than at night when most other butterflies fly.

20. Sandhill Skipper

The sandhill skipper is a beautiful butterfly with black and yellow bands on its wings. It has a fast flight pattern and is rare in Hawaii. In some areas, it has been endangered due to habitat loss. 

The sandhill skipper is not only one of the rarest butterflies in Hawaii and one of the most beautiful! With their striking colors and impressive speed, the types of butterflies in Hawaii make for an exciting sight while they fly around your garden or property.

These types of butterflies are in Hawaii. Unfortunately, you live in an area where these are not found (they are usually seen on dry slopes), but there are many other types of butterflies to enjoy!

21. Gulf Fritillary

The Gulf Fritillaries are one of the most stunning butterflies, with deep blue wings with orange stripes. These butterflies in Hawaii are native to tropical America and live at high altitudes.

Females can lay up to 600 eggs on host plants, which then hatch into caterpillars that will eat for about a month before turning into pupae and emerging as adults.

The Gulf Fritillary is among the most beautiful types of butterflies in Hawaii. It is not only natively found in high altitude areas but also has unique features such as having orange stripes on its wings and being found in tropical America.

The female Gulf Fritillary can lay up to 600 eggs per lifetime, and these eggs hatch into caterpillars that feed for about a month before turning into pupae and emerging as adults.

Conclusion

Many people are unaware that more than a hundred types of butterflies are found in Hawaii. It has been estimated that there are more than 21 types of butterflies in Hawaii alone.

However, these numbers may vary because some species fly at night and cannot be seen during the day.

Whether you are a butterfly enthusiast or want to see what species you might have lived near your home, this list should help get you started searching for these creatures.

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