Hypolimnas bolina (L.)

Blue Moon Butterfly (Hypolimnas bolina)

The Blue Moon Butterfly, also known under the markedly ugly name Great Eggfly, was described in 1764.

The species has an exceptional wide area of distribution, which stretches from Madagascar over Asia and Australia into eastern Polynesia.

Three of the several subspecies occur within the Polynesian region, these are: Hypolimnas bolina ssp. otaheitae (Felder), which occurs on the Austral- and the Cook Islands, the Marquesas, the Society Islands, the Pitcairn Islands, and on Rapa Nui; Hypolimnas bolina ssp. pallescens (Butler), which is found in Fiji, in Tokelau, in Tonga, and in Samoa; Hypolimnas bolina ssp. rarik (Eschscholtz), which occurs in some parts of Kiribati as well as in Tuvalu. Another subspecies, Hypolimnas bolina ssp. nerina (Fabricius) is native to Australia and regularely visits New Zealand, but has not yet established a breeding population there, but probably will do so in time, and thus should be mentioned here too.

Males and females show a striking sexual dimorphism, males are always black with some white spots on the wings, which again are surrounded by a glossy dark blue ring. The females are much more variable in coloration, they furthermore produce several morphotypes, which, in appearance, often resemble other butterfly species, a phenomenon called mimicry.

The males are very territorial, while the females are wandering over wide ranges.

The larvae feed on plant species from the Acanthaceae, Amaranthaceae, Asteraceae, Malvaceae and the Urticaceae family.

~~~

In Niue this butterfly is called pepe mahina lanu.

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References:

[1] R. H. Van Zwaluwenburg: The Insects of Canton Island. Proceedings of the Hawaiian Entomological Society 11(3): 300-312. 1943
[2] Alden D. Hinckley: Ecology of Terrestrial Arthropods on the Tokelau Atolls. Atoll Research Bulletin 124: 1-18. 1969
[3] Jaqueline Y. Miller; Lee D. Miller: The Butterflies of the Tonga Islands and Niue, Cook Islands, with the Descriptions of two new subspecies. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 34: 1-24. 1993
[4] Brian Patrick; Hamish Patrick: Butterflies of Fiji. The Weta 24(1): 5-12. 2002
[5] Neal L. Evenhuis: Checklist of Fijian Lepidoptera. Bishop Museum Technical Report 38(13): 1-53. 2007
[6] Brian Patrick; Hamish Patrick: Butterflies of the South Pacific. Otago University Press 2012

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Photo: Antonio Machado; by courtesy of Antonio Machado

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edited: 18.08.2017

Fimbristylis cymosa R. Br.

Hurricane-Grass (Fimbristylis cymosa)

Distribution:

Austral Islands: Rimatara, Rurutu, Tubuai
Cook Islands: ‘Atiu, Mangaia, Manihiki, Manuae, Ma’uke, Miti’aro, Nassau, Palmerston, Pukapuka, Rakahanga, Rarotonga, Suwarrow, Tongareva
Fiji: Rotuma, Viti Levu
Gambier Islands: Mangareva, Taravai, Totegegie
Hawai’i Islands: French Frigate Shoals, Hawai’i, Kaua’i, Kure, Lana’i, Laysan, Lehua, Maui, Midway, Moloka’i, Ni’ihau, O’ahu
Kiribati: Abariringa, Baker Island, Enderbury Island, Jarvis Island, Kiritimati, Manra, Nikumaroro, Orona, Palmyra-Atoll, Tabuaeran, Teraina
Marquesas: Eiao, Ua Huka
Niue
Pitcairn Islands: Henderson Island
Samoa: ‘Aunu’u, Fanuatapu, Nu’ulua, Nu’utele, Ofu, Olosega, Savai’i, Ta’u, Tutuila
Society Islands: Bora Bora, Huahine, Maiao, Me’eti’a, Mo’orea, Ra’iatea, Taha’a, Tahiti, Tetiaroa, Tupai
Tokelau: Atafu, Fakaofo, Nukunonu, Olohega
Tonga: ‘Eua, Fafa, Fukave, Malinoa, Manima
Tuamotu Archipelago: Apataki, Hao, Makatea, Manihi, Niau, Rangiroa, Takapoto, Tenarunga, Tikehau, Toau
Tuvalu: Nui
Wallis & Futuna: Futuna, ‘Uvea

local name:

mati upoo – Tuamotu Archipelago
mauku – ‘Atiu, Manihiki, Rakahanga, Tongareva / Cook Islands
mau’u’aki’aki – Hawai’i Islands
mouku – Tuamotu Archipelago
kukuti – Tuamotu Archipelago
pako pako – Tahiti / Society Islands
papa ‘enua – Ma’uke / Cook Islands
pupu – Rotuma / Fiji
te uteute ni mane – Kiribati
tuise – Tokelau
tumu ‘enua – Palmerston / Cook Islands
uti’uti hu’a – Society Islands
vayavaya – Nassau, Pukapuka / Cook Islands

~~~

Two of three accepted subspecies of this species are known to occur within the Polynesian region, Fimbristylis cymosa ssp. cymosa R. Br. and Fimbristylis cymosa ssp. umbellatocapitata (Hillebr.) T. Koyama.

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References:

[1] Albert C. Smith: Flora Vitiensis Nova: A new flora of Fiji (Spermatophytes only). Vol. 1. Lawai, Kauai, Hawaii 1979

Macrophthalmus convexus Stimpson

Convex Sentinel Crab (Macrophthalmus convexus)

The Convex Sentinel Crabs are very small crabs having an average carapace diameter of about 1 x 1,5 cm to 1,5 x 3 cm and exceedingly long eyestalks.

They live in the intertidal zone, where they can be found abundantly on muddy places near the outlets of small streams, and are therefore absent from islands without such freshwater streams, e.g. the Tuamotus. The crabs feed on smallest food particles, which they sift out from the sand.

These crabs dig their burrows in muddy sand, in which they flee at the slightest disturbance.

On Aitutaki the crabs are called papaka.

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Photo: J. Poupin; by courtesy of J. Poupin

http://decapoda.ecole-navale.fr/index.php
http://decapoda.free.fr

Boerhavia repens L.

Boerhavia repens

Distribution:

Hawai’i Islands: French Frigate Shoals, Hawai’i, Kaho’olawe, Kaua’i, Ka’ula, Kure, Lana’i, Laysan, Lehua, Lisianski, Maui, Midway, Moloka’i, Ni’ihau, O’ahu, Pearl and Hermes
Kiribati: Karoraina, Kiritimati, Malden Island, Starbuck Island, Vostok Island
Marquesas: Mohotani, Nuku Hiva, Ua Huka
Niue (?)
Samoa: Ofu, Olosega, Ta’u, Tutuila

local names:

alena – Hawai’i Islands
anena – Hawai’i Islands
nena – Hawai’i Islands
te wao – Kiribati

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Photo: Kim Starr & Forest Starr; by courtesy of Kim Starr & Forest Starr

http://www.starrenvironmental.com

Coenobita perlatus H. Milne Edwards

Strawberry Hermit Land Crab (Coenobita perlatus)

This species is distributed throughout the whole tropical Indopacific region, from the coasts of Africa up to East Polynesia, where it can be found in large numbers especially on the atolls of the Tuamotu Archipelago.

The animals mostly stay close to the beaches, where they feed on all applicable things they can get, including seeds washed up to the beach or fallen coconuts, but also washed up fish and dead seabirds.

Strawberry Hermit Land Crabs prefer the shells of sea snails of the genus Turbo.

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References:

[1] Alden D. Hinckley: Ecology of Terrestrial Arthropods on the Tokelau Atolls. Atoll Research Bulletin 124: 1-18. 1969
[2] J. C. Yaldwyn; Kasimierz Wodzicki: Systematics and ecology of the land crabs (Decapoda: Coenobitidae, Grapsidae and Gecarcinidae) of the Tokelau Islands, Central Pacific. Atoll Research Bulletin 235: 1-59. 1979
[3] S. A. Hathaway; K. McEachern; R. N. Fisher: Terrestrial Forest Management Plan for Palmyra Atoll: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011-1007, 78 p. 2011

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Photo: J. Poupin; by courtesy of J. Poupin

http://decapoda.ecole-navale.fr/index.php
http://decapoda.free.fr

Megalorrhipida leucodactyla (Fabricius)

White-footed Feather Moth (Megalorrhipida leucodactyla)

The White-footed Feather Moth has a pantropical distribution, that means it occurs in the tropics worldwide, thus it probably occurs naturally in some parts of Polynesia as well.

The caterpillars are not specialized to any host plant species and feed on a wide range of plants, including the widespread species Boerhavia albiflora Fosberg, Boerhavia repens L. and Boerhavia tetrandra G. Forst..

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References:

[1] Koji Yano: Notes on South Pacific Pterophoridae (Lepidoptera). Pacific Insects 5(4): 849-871. 1963
[2] Karin S. Kami; Scott E. Miller: Samoan Insects and related Arthropods: Checklist and Bibliography.Bishop Museum Technical Report 13. 1998

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megalorrhipida-leucodactyla-dh

Photo: Donald Hobern

(under creative commons license (2.0))
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0

Pandanus tectorius Parkinson ex Du Roi

Screw Pine (Pandanus tectorius)

Distribution:

Austral Islands: Maria, Raivavae, Rapa, Rimatara, Rurutu, Tubuai
Cook Islands: Aitutaki, ‘Atiu, Mangaia, Manihiki, Manuae, Ma’uke, Miti’aro, Nassau, Palmerston, Pukapuka, Rakahanga, Rarotonga, Suwarrow, Takutea, Tongareva
Fiji: Aiwa, Dravuni, Fulaga, Gau, Kadavu, Koro, Lakeba, Laucala, Mabualau, Makaluva, Matamanoa, Matuku, Moala, Monuriki, Nagigia, Namenalala, Namuka, Nananu, Nasoata, Naviti, Nayau, Nukulau, Nukulevu, Qamea, Rotuma, Solkope, Taveuni, Vanua Balavu, Vanua Levu, Vatoa, Vatulele, Viti Levu, Wayasewa, Yanucalailai, Yanucalevu
Gambier Islands: Agakauitai, Akamaru, Aukena, Kamaka, Makapu, Makaroa, Mangareva, Manui, Mekiro, Taravai
Hawai’i Islands: Kaua’i, Lana’i, Maui, Moloka’i, Ni’ihau, O’ahu
Kiribati: Flint Island, Karoraina, Nikumaroro, Orona, Palmyra Atoll, Tabuaeran, Teraina
Marquesas: Eiao, Fatu Hiva, Mohotani, Nuku Hiva, Tahuata, Ua Huka, Ua Pou
Niue
Pitcairn Islands: Henderson Island, Oeno, Pitcairn Island
Samoa: Apolima, ‘Aunu’u, Fanuatapu, Manono, Namu’a, Nu’ulua, Nu’utele, Ofu, Olosega, Savai’i, Ta’u, Tutuila, ‘Upolu
Society Islands: Bora Bora, Mai’ao, Me’eti’a, Mo’orea, Motu Nono, Motu Puuru, Ra’iatea, Taha’a, Tahiti, Tetiaroa, Tupai
Tokelau: Atafu, Fakaofo, Nukunonu, Olohega
Tonga: Alakipeau, ‘Ata, ‘Eua, Fafa, Foa, Fukave, Kao, Makaha’a, Malinoa, Manima, Maninita, Monuafe, Motutapu, Mounu, Niuatoputapu, Nuku, Oneata, Onevai, Onevao, Pangaimotu, Polo’a, Tafahi, Tau, Tofua, Toketoke, Tongatapu, Tufaka, ‘Uiha, ‘Uta Vava’u, Velitoa Hahake, Velitoa Hihifo
Tuamotu Archipelago: Akiaki, Anaa, Aratika, Hao, Katiu, Makatea, Makemo, Manihi, Mataiva, Morane, Mururoa, Napuka, Niau, Nukutepipi, Rangiroa, Raroia, Tahanea, Taiaro, Takapoto, Takaroa, Takume, Tatakoto, Temoe, Tikehau, Tikei, Toau, Vahitahi
Tuvalu: Funafuti, Nanumanga, Nanumea, Niulakita, Niutao, Nui, Nukufetau, Nukulaelae, Vaitupu
Wallis & Futuna: Alofi, Faioa, Fenua Fo’ou, Futuna, Nukuatea, Nukuloa, Nukutapu, ‘Uvea

local names:

‘ara – Aitutaki / Cook Islands
‘ara pepe – ‘Atiu, Ma’uke / Cook Islands
‘ara-ta’atai – Rarotonga / Cook Islands
‘ara-tai – ‘Atiu, Mangaia, Ma’uke, Miti’aro / Cook Islands
balawa – Fiji
draudreka – Fiji
fa – Niue; Tonga
fa’a mei – Marquesas
fa feutu – Niue
fa fi – Niue
fa ivi – Niue
fala – Samoa
falavao – Olohega / Tokelau
fala vao – Tokelau
fara – Manihiki, Palmerston, Rakahanga / Cook Islands; Tupai / Society Islands; Raroia / Tuamotu Archipelago
fara moa – Tahiti / Society Islands
fara moua – Tahiti / Society Islands
fara uteute – Tahiti / Society Islands
fasa – Samoa
hala – Hawai’i Islands
hala kilipaki – Hawai’i Islands (spineless clone)
hara – Tongareva / Cook Islands
hat – Rotuma / Fiji
hata – Rotuma / Fiji
hosoa – Rotuma / Fiji
kiakia – Rotuma / Fiji
kie – Tonga (spineless clone)
lau fala – Samoa (spineless clone)
pandana – Palmerston / Cook Islands
pu hala – Hawai’I Islands
sa’aga – Rotuma / Fiji
te kaina – Kiribati
teou – Nui / Tuvalu
teto – Nui / Tuvalu
tima – Raroia / Tuamotu Archipelago
uea – Tupai / Society Islands
vadra – Fiji
varawa – Fiji
voivoi – Fiji
wala – Nassau, Pukapuka / Cook Islands

~~~

The Screw Pine is a geographically widespread and exceptionally morphologically variable species (or maybe a species complex). In the Polynesian region this plant is found almost everywhere, except for climatically inappropriate areas like New Zealand or Rapa Nui.

The Screw Pine was once one of the most important plants for the Polynesians, and Screw Pine saplings, together with saplings of Breadfruit Trees, Coconut Palms, Taro and several others, were transported by the Polynesian settlers on their boats during inter-island migration – to be planted out at their new island homes.

The Polynesians, over time, reared numerous cultivars, among them such whose leaves are lacking spines on their margins, and which therefore are very well-suited for weaving.

The exceptional variability of the wild and cultivated forms lead to the description of countless species, subspecies and varieties. So, Harold St. John alone described in his “Revision of the Genus Pandanus” various female plants as distinct species – in many cases from geographically very localized populations. In a biological sense, all of these ‘species’ are part of the same population, and furthermore, it is impossible to designate male plants to such ‘species’.

Some of the morphologically distinct forms that are seemingly restricted to the higher elevations of larger islands, like Pandanus papenooensis H. St. John on Tahiti or Pandanus temehaniensis J. W. Moore on Ra’iatea, are often still referred to as distinct species.

(I personally, however, see all of these forms as Pandanus tectorius.)

Nevertheless, the genus is in urgent need of a proper revision!

~~~

As already mentioned, in virtually all parts of Polynesia the leaves were and are used for weaving, among other things, for elaborate mats, especially in Tonga, or boat sails (in former times on the Hawai’i Islands), right up to roofs and walls of houses (!). The stilt roots were used, for example, on the Cook Islands, for house building (as abutment walls) too.

The fruits are fruit heads comprising an aggregate of many tightly bunched phalanges or drupes that are edible. In some cultivars, these drupes reach the size of an apple. They are eaten especially in parts of Kiribati, Tokelau, and in Tuvalu.

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References:

[1] Sven Buerki; Martin W. Callmander; Dion S. Devey; Lauren Chappell; Timothy Gallaher; Jérôme Munzinger; Thomas Haevermans Félix Forest: Straightening out the screw-pines: A first step in understanding phylogenetic relationships within Pandanaceae. Taxon 61(5): 1010-1020. 2012
[2] Timothy Gallaher; Martin W. Gallmander; Sven Buerki; Sterling C. Keeley: A long distance dispersal hypothesis for the Pandanaceae and the origins of the Pandanus tectorius complex. Molecular Phylogenetis and Evolution 83: 20-32.2015

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pandanus-tectorius-fks

Photo: Kim Starr & Forest Starr; by courtesy of Kim Starr & Forest Starr

http://www.starrenvironmental.com

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edited: 13.02.2017

Acrocephalus aequinoctialis (Latham)

Kiribati Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus aequinoctialis)

The 16 cm long Kiribati Reed-Warbler is the only (recent) resident passerine bird in Kiribati, all other passerines possibly seen there are winter visitors.

The species can be split into two subspecies (in fact they may even represent three – but this need further investigation), both show a grey and white plumage and differ only slightly from each other.

The Kiribati Reed-Warbler was first described in 1790 from the giant atoll of Kiritimati, where its total population today is estimated at only 300 to 400 birds.

Another form was discovered in 1881 on the small atoll of Tabuaeran, 224 km northwest of Kiritimati, it was described as a distinct subspecies (Acrocephalus aequinoctialis ssp. pistor Tristram) in 1883, but was last seen in the year 1924, and is now considered extinct.

Again, another form was discovered in 1921 on the island of Teraina, 120 km northwest of Tabuaeran, and this was subsequently assigned to the ssp. pistor (but may indeed by a distinct third subspecies).

In Kiribati this bird is called bokikokiko resp. kokikokiko.

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acrocephalus-a-pistor-ibis

Tabuaeran Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus aequinoctialis ssp. pistor)

Depiction from: ‘H. B. Tristram: On the Position of the Acrocephaline Genus Tatare, with the Descriptions of two new species of the Genus Acrocephalus. The Ibis 5(1): 38-46. 1883′

http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org

Nesofregetta fuliginosa (Gmelin)

Polynesian Storm-Petrel (Nesofregetta fuliginosa)

This species is endemic to the tropical Pacific, where it breeds from parts of Melanesia (Vanuatu) well into East Polynesia, for example on the Gambier Islands in the Tuamotu Archipelago.

From the Cook Islands and on Rapa Nui, however, it is known only from subfossil remains.

The Polynesian Storm-Petrel is an about 25 cm large seabird, of which several color morphs are known to exist, which were formerly considered to represent distinct species. A remarkably dark morph (the Samoan Storm-Petrel) seems to be restricted to Samoa.

The bird is known in Polynesia by several different names, including kitai on the Marquesas, korue on Tahanea in the Tuamotu Archipelago, taio in Samoa, and te bwebwe ni marawa on the Phoenix Islands of Kiribati.

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nesofregetta-fuliginosa-akk

Photo: Angela K. Keppler; by courtesy of Angela K. Keppler

http://www.pbif.org

Utetheisa pulchelloides Hampson

Heliotrope Moth (Utetheisa pulchelloides)

This species occurs with several subspecies in many parts of the ‘Old World’ and has also colonized many island groups within the Indian – and the Pacific Ocean.

The subspecies occurring in Polynesia is Utetheisa pulchelloides ssp. marshallorum Rothschild (see photograph), it is found on the Fijian Islands, in Samoa and Tonga, in all parts of ‘French’ Polynesia up to the Pitcairn Islands.

The caterpillars of this species feed on the leaves of the beach heliotrope (Heliotropium foertherianum Diane & Hilger).

~~~

Another subspecies, Utetheisa pulchelloides ssp. vaga Jordan, regularly immigrates from Australia to New Zealand, where it has also already established temporary breeding colonies.

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References:

[1] R. H. Van Zwaluwenburg: The Insects of Canton Island. Proceedings of the Hawaiian Entomological Society 11(3): 300-312. 1943
[2] Alden D. Hinckley: Ecology of Terrestrial Arthropods on the Tokelau Atolls. Atoll Research Bulletin 124: 1-18. 1969
[3] Gaden S. Robinson: The Genus Utetheisa Hübner in Fiji with a description of a new species (Lepidoptera, Arctiidae). Entomologist’s Record and Journal of Variation 83: 123-130. 1971
[4] G. W. Gibbs: A temporary breeding colony of Utetheisa pulchelloides vaga in New Zealand. New Zealand Entomologist 5(2): 162-163. 1973

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utetheisa-p-marshallorum-dhg

Photo: Donald H. Gudehus; by courtesy of Donald H. Gudehus

http://www.parfaitimage.com