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.

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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

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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

Pteropus tonganus Quoy & Gaimard

Tongan Fruit-Bat (Pteropus tonganus)

The Tongan Fruit-Bat occurs with several subspecies in an area that stretches from New Guinea to the Cook Islands in Central Polynesia, whereby the form, that can be found in Polynesia, represents the nominate race.

These animals reach a wing span of more than one metre and spend the day more or less sleeping in roosting trees, where they sometimes form giant colonies.

In most parts of its geographic range the species is an important source of protein and is therefore heavily hunted, but also because the Fruit-Bats, being frugivores, can cause enormous damages in fruiting trees. Hence the species has become rare in some parts of its geographic range, in others it has even disappeared completely.

In the Kingdom of Tonga in contrast Tongan Fruit-Bats are considered as property of the royal family and therefore are protected from hunting – a very effective protection.

On the Cook Islands, the eastern most edge of its distribution area, the Tongan Fruit-Bat is called moa kirikiri, which means ‘leather chicken’. On the Fijian Islands it is called beka, bekua (in the west part of Viti Levu), beka dina or doli (on Kadavu).

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References:

[1] Jorge M. Palmeirim; Alan Champion; Alivereti Naikatini, Jone Niukula; Marika Tuiwawa; Martin Fisher; Mere Yabaki-Gounder; Sólveig Thorsteinsdóttir; Stanley Qalovaki; Thomas Dunn: Distribution, Status, and Conservation of Bats in the Fiji Islands. Oryx 41(4): 509-519. 2006

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Photo: Dr. Paddy Ryan; by courtesy of Dr. Paddy Ryan

http://www.ryanphotographic.com

Planchonella membranacea H. J. Lam.

Planchonella membranacea

Distribution:

Fiji: Vanua Balavu, Vanua Levu, Viti Levu
Tonga: ‘Uta Vava’u

local names: –

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References:

[1] Albert C. Smith: Flora Vitiensis Nova: A new flora of Fiji (Spermatophytes only). Vol. 2. Lawai, Kauai, Hawaii 1981

Bathygobius fuscus (Rüppell)

Dusky Frillgoby (Bathygobius fuscus)

The Dusky Frillgoby is mainly a sea fish, but does also occur in brackish water, especially in mangrove areas, and occasionally moves also into freshwater.

This is primarily a marine species occasionally entering freshwaters. It is a detritus feeder, and it prefers habitats with sand and rubble, soft coral and open reefs.

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Depiction from: ‘Spencer Wilkie Tinker: Hawaiian fishes; a handbook of the fishes found among the islands of the Central Pacific Ocean. Honolulu, Hawaii, Tongg publishing company 1944’

(no known copyright restrictions)

Phaleria glabra (Turrill) Domke

Phaleria glabra

Distribution:

Fiji: Kadavu, Ovalau, Taveuni, Vanua Levu, Viti Levu
Samoa: Tutuila
Tonga: ‘Eua

local names:

buibuita – Viti / Fiji
cua ni lawa – Viti / Fiji
matiavi – Viti / Fiji
rauwosi – Viti / Fiji
sinu lau – Viti / Fiji

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References:

[1] Albert C. Smith: Flora Vitiensis Nova: A new flora of Fiji (Spermatophytes only). Vol. 2. Lawai, Kauai, Hawaii 1981

Lathrecista asiatica (Fabricius)

Scarlet Grenadier (Lathrecista asiatica)

The Scarlet Grenadier, also known as Asiatic Blood Tail, is easily recognizable by its bright red abdomen.

The species is very widespread, occurring from Asia and Australia to western Polynesia, where it is known from Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga.

It breeds in ponds, marshes, swamp forests and shallow forest pools.

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The Scarlet Grenadier is the sole member of its monotypic genus. The species is split into several subspecies, of which the nominate race is known to occur within the Polynesian region. The Samoan specimens, however, appear to be somewhat smaller than the nominate race, thus may represent a distinct subspecies. [1]

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References:

[1] Milen Marinov; Mark Schmaedick; Dan Polhemus; Rebecca L. Stirnemann; Fialelei Enoka; Pulemagafa Siaifoi Fa’aumu; Moeumu Uili: Faunistic and taxonomic investigations on the Odonata fauna of the Samoan archipelago with particular focus on taxonomic ambiguities in the “Ischnurine complex”. Journal of the International Dragonfly Fund 91: 1-56. 2015

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Photo: André van Velsen; by courtesy of André van Velsen

Hippotion velox (Fabricius)

Swift Hawk Moth (Hippotion velox)

In January 2002 the small island of Maninita in the Tongan Vava’u group was hit by the cyclone Waka, one of the most destructive tropical cyclones ever to affect the Tongan islands. The island’s forest, dominated by three tree species, puopua (Guettarda speciosa L.), fao (Ochrosia oppositifolia (Lam.) K. Schum) and puko (Pisonia grandis R. Br.), was indeed badly damaged, but the trees appeared not to have been defoliated by the cyclone itself but by an immense outbreak of caterpillars following the disaster.

These caterpillars were identified as belonging to the Fijian Bee Hawk Moth (Cephonodes armatus Rothschild & Jordan) and to the Swift Hawk Moth (Hippotion velox), whose occurrence on the Tongan islands was verified thereby for the first time.

~~~

The Swift Hawk Moth is a middle-sized species, reaching a wingspan of 5,5 to 7,5 cm.

The species has a wide distribution and occurs from Asia and Australia to Polynesia, where it is now known from the Cook Islands, the Fijian Islands, from Samoa and the Tokelauan atolls. The Swift Hawk Moth has only recently begun to colonize New Zealand as well.

The caterpillars are able to use a wide range of plant species as food, including members from the Aroid family (Araceae), the Morning Glory family (Convolvulaceae), the Four O’Clock family (Nyctaginaceae) and the Coffee family (Rubiaceae).

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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] Karin S. Kami; Scott E. Miller: Samoan Insects and related Arthropods: Checklist and Bibliography. Bishop Museum Technical Report 13. 1998
[3] D. M. Houston: Eradicating rats from Maninita Island, Vava’u, Kingdom of Tonga August 2002. New Zealand Agency for International Development, Tonga Visitors Bureau, Ministry of Land, Survey and Natural Resources, Department of Environment, Kingdom of Tonga

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Photo: John A. Clayton; by courtesy of John A. Clayton

http://www.usp.ac.fj/fijimoths

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edited: 29.06.2017

Acraea andromacha ssp. polynesiaca Rebel

Polynesian Glasswing (Acraea andromacha ssp. polynesiaca)

The Glasswing is distributed from Australia and New Guinea to West Polynesia, the Polynesian subspecies lives on the Fijian Islands, however, it is now probably extinct in Samoa and Tonga.

The Polynesian Glasswing has black patterned, translucent wings with a wingspan of about 5,5 cm, the sexes appear to be superficially identical.

The species lays its eggs on the underside of the leaves of the native Golden Passionflower (Passiflora aurantia G. Forst.) and certainly also on those of other, introduced passionflower species.

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References:

[1] Brian Patrick; Hamish Patrick: Butterflies of Fiji. The Weta 24(1): 5-12. 2002
[2] Neal L. Evenhuis: Checklist of Fijian Lepidoptera. Bishop Museum Technical Report 38(13): 1-53. 2007
[3] Brian Patrick; Hamish Patrick: Butterflies of the South Pacific. Otago University Press 2012

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Photo from: ‘Karl Rechinger: Botanische und Zoologische Ergebnisse einer wissenschaftlichen Forschungsreise nach den Samoa-Inseln, dem Neuguinea-Archipel und den Salomonsinseln. Wien: In Kommission bei Alfred Hölder 1907-1914′

(not in copyright)

Zizina otis ssp. labradus (Godart)

Lesser Grass Blue (Zizina otis ssp. labradus)

The Lesser Grass Blue, a very small, blue butterfly with a wingspan of only about 1,5 cm, is a widely distributed species, that is still expanding its range, so for example the species has reached the Hawaiian Islands by 2008.

The formerly recognized subspecies ssp. cheesmanae (Poulton & Riley), ssp. mangoensis (Butler) are now obviously included in the ssp. labradus (Godart), which occurs in the Polynesian region and beyond, however, the taxonomical position of this species and its subspecies varies from author to author.

The caterpillars feed on a wide variety of legume species.

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In Niue the species is called pepe lanu moana mama.

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References:

[1] John Adam Comstock: Lepidoptera of American Samoa with particular reference to biology and ecology. Pacific Insects Monographs 11: 1-74. 1966
[2] 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
[3] Karin S. Kami; Scott E. Miller: Samoan Insects and related Arthropods: Checklist and Bibliography. Bishop Museum Technical Report 13. 1998
[4] Brian Patrick; Hamish Patrick: Butterflies of Fiji. The Weta 24(1): 5-12. 2002
[5] Brian Patrick; Hamish Patrick: Butterflies of the South Pacific. Otago University Press 2012

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

http://www.starrenvironmental.com

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edited: 18.01.14