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13 Types of Butterflies in Hawaii (Pictures)

Butterflies are common creatures typically welcomed in gardens and meadows, with hundreds of species in the U.S. Despite the amount of species, some butterflies are more common in some regions than others. In the state of Hawaii, there are only two native butterflies, but they aren’t the only ones found on the islands. While some of these can be found year-round, others migrate to or from the islands each year. They thrive in these tropical areas, and can be seen at sea level and high elevations.

13 butterflies found in Hawaii

1. Kamehameha butterfly

Kamehameha butterfly on a plant
Kamehameha butterfly on a plant | image by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Vanessa tameamea

The Kamehameha butterfly is one of the two butterfly species that are native to Hawaii. Their wings are colored bright orange and black, and can grow to be 2.5 inches long. They were named the state insect of Hawaii in 2009.

Kamehamehas can be seen in the upper woodland regions of the Hawaiian islands, feeding on native trees and nectar.

2. Asian swallowtail

Asian swallowtail on flowering plant
Asian swallowtail on flowering plant | image by U-ichiro Murakami via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific name: Papilio xuthus

The Asian swallowtail, also known as the Chinese yellow swallowtail and Xuthus swallowtail, is commonly found on the Hawaiian islands. These medium to large butterflies are mostly yellow in color, with some black. They can be found in suburban and urban areas, as well as orange orchards and woodlands.

Their flight period ranges from the month of May to August. Asian swallowtails can also be found in northeast Asia, southern China, and Japan.

3. Blackburn’s bluet

Blackburn’s bluet butterfly
A blackburn’s bluet butterfly | image by siamesepuppy via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Udara blackburnii

Blackburn’s bluet, also known as green Hawaiian blue or Hawaiian blue, is the second butterfly species native to Hawaii. They have iridescent wings colored blue and aquamarine. This small butterfly only grows up to an inch in size.

The Blackburn’s bluet mainly feeds on the Koa tree, in both the caterpillar and butterfly stages.

4. Gulf fritillary

Gulf fritillary butterfly
Gulf fritillary butterfly | Image by 472619 from Pixabay

Scientific name: Dione vanillae

Also known as the passion butterfly, the Gulf fritillary are considered long-wing butterflies. This means their wings are more long and narrow when compared to other butterflies. While common in Hawaii, they are also found through several regions in the southern U.S.

They can be seen in every county in Florida, as well as through Mexico and in South America.

5. Monarch

Monarch butterfly
A monarch butterfly | Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Scientific name: Danaus plexippus

Monarch butterflies are commonly found in Hawaii and are one of the most easily recognizable insects. They have distinct orange and black markings, with small white spots. Monarchs are medium-sized butterflies that can reach up to 4 inches long.

They migrate anywhere from 1,200 miles to 2,800 miles during their migration through the U.S. and into Canada and Mexico. These butterflies hibernate in mountain forests in order to survive the winter season.

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6. Gram Blue

Gram blue butterfly on a leaf
A gram blue butterfly on a leaf | image by Len Worthington via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific name: Euchrysops cnejus

Gram blues are small butterflies, named for the soft blueish color of their wings. Male butterflies are more of a light purple color. They are common in Hawaii, as well as India, Australia, and the South Sea Islands. These insects prefer low flying in open, grassy areas.

The gram blue’s main source of food is called a “pea plant,” which can be identified by its yellow flowers.

7. Large Orange Sulphur

Large orange sulphur butterfly
Large orange sulphur butterfly | image by Insects Unlocked via Flickr

Scientific name: Phoebis agarithe

As the name suggests, this is a large butterfly that reaches between 2 and 3.5 inches in length. Males of the species are bright orange, while the females tend to be pink-white or yellow-orange.

They thrive in the tropics, and can also be found in the southern U.S. and Peru. In rare occurrences, they have been seen in Colorado, South Dakota, and New Jersey.

8. Fiery Skipper

Fiery skipper butterfly on a flower
Fiery skipper butterfly on a flower | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Hylephila phyleus

The fiery skipper is a small butterfly, only reaching one inch in size. Females are either dark brown with yellow or orange spots, while males are orange or yellow with black spots. When their wings are held upright they form a triangle shape that may help them absorb sunlight.

During the summer they migrate to the northern United States and southern Canada. When in caterpillar form they are seen as pests, eating mainly Bermuda grass.

9. Sleepy Orange

Sleepy orange butterfly on a flower
Sleepy orange butterfly on a flower | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Eurema nicippe

The sleepy orange is found in Hawaii, as well as most of the southern U.S., Belize, the West Indies, and Costa Rica. They have an average wingspan of 1.5 to 2 inches. This butterfly is named for the black dash on its upper forewing, called a “sleepy eye.”

They prefer flying through woodlands, prairies, grasslands, and roadsides.

10. Lantana Scrub-Hairstreak

Lantana scrub hairstreak butterfly
Lantana scrub hairstreak butterfly | image by ALAN SCHMIERER via Flickr

Scientific name: Strymon bazochii

These small butterflies only reach an inch long and can be identified by brown and grey patches on their wings. Lantana Hairstreaks were introduced to Hawaii in the early 1900s to attempt to control lantana. However, the effort was unsuccessful.

They prefer to be in open tropical areas. These butterflies can also be found in Mexico, South Texas, and much of Central America.

11. Pea Blue

Pea blue butterfly
Pea blue butterfly | image by Rison Thumboor via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific name: Lampides boeticus

Also known as a long-tailed blue, pea blue is a small butterfly that reaches an inch or so long. They are larger than other small butterfly species.

Females have less blue in their wings than their male counterparts. These insects can be found in the Hawaiian Islands, Australia, Africa, and Europe.

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Pea blues are found at high elevations like mountain meadows. They also prefer forests and hot flowery climates.

12. Long-winged green streak

Long winged green streak on plants
Long winged green streak on plants | image by xulescu_g via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific name: Callophrys rubi

These butterflies are named for their green underwings, which are present any time they aren’t in flight. The undersides also have a white marking that will vary in distinction from one butterfly to another. Long-winged green streaks are often found near shrubs and scrub, or quarries and bogs.

In addition to Hawaii, they are found in England, Scotland, and Wales.

13. Cabbage White

Cabbage white butterfly
A cabbage white butterfly | image by John Tann via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Pieris rapae

Cabbage white butterflies are extremely common, especially in Asia and Europe. They are also often seen in the Hawaiian Islands and prefer flying through open spaces. These can include roadsides, suburbs, or gardens.

Its caterpillar form is a garden pest, especially for vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and kale. Due to their appearance, they can easily be mistaken for moths.