Erechthias flavistriata (Walsingham)

Sugarcane Bud Moth (Erechthias flavistriata)

This species was described in the year 1907.

The larvae are known to feed on a wide range of plants including Coconut Palms, Screwpines, but also cultivated plants like Bananas, Pineapples, and Sugarcane.

The species may actually originate from Melanesia and may have been introduced to Polynesia accidently by man.

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Cranfillia vulcanica (Blume) Gasper & V. A. O. Dittrich

Cranfillia vulcanica

Distribution:

Austral Islands: Rapa, Tubuai
Cook Islands: Rarotonga
Marquesas: Fatu Hiva, Hiva Oa, Nuku Hiva, Tahuata, Ua Huka, Ua Pou
New Zealand: Chatham Islands; North Island; South Island; Stewart Island
Samoa: Olosega, Savai’i, Ta’u, Tutuila, ‘Upolu
Society Islands: Huahine, Mo’orea, Ra’iatea, Taha’a, Tahiti
Tonga: Kao, Late, Niuafo’ou, Tofua

local names:

korokio – New Zealand

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References:

[1] André Luís Gasper; Vinícius Antonio de Oliveira Dittrich; Alan R. Smith; Alexandre Salino: A classification for Blechnaceae (Polypodiales: Polypodiopsida): New genera, resurrected names, and combinations. Phytotaxa 275(3): 191-227. 2016

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Photo: John Barkla
http://www.inaturalist.org/people/john_barkla

(under creative commons license (4.0))
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0

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edited: 03.02.2018

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.

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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

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

Ducula galeata (Bonaparte)

Nukuhiva Imperial Pigeon (Ducula galeata)

For a very long time this bird was thought to be endemic to the Marquesan island of Nuku Hiva – this, however, turned out to be far from the truth.

In fact, in historical times this species had a much wider geographical range, including the Cook Islands, as well as the Society Islands, and of course all of the Marquesan Islands as well. The birds were extirpated from most of their former range already by the Polynesian settlers, and had their last refuge on the island of Nuku Hiva – a situation that is called artificial endemism (… in fact, there are several other bird species within Polynesia that share the same situation …).

The Nukuhiva Imperial Pigeon is a huge bird, reaching about 55 cm from the tip of its bill to the tip of its tail, it is therefore the largest surviving pigeon species in Polynesia.

Nevertheless the bird is far from being flightless.

The endangered species was reintroduced to another of the Marquesasn islands, Ua Huka, were it is breeding since, and the future of this impressive species seems to be a good and save one.

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Photo: Virginie & Fabien (fabvirge); by courtesy of Virginie & Fabien (fabvirge)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/virginieetfabien

Parablechnum procerum (G. Forst.) C. Presl

Parablechnum procerum

Distribution:

Cook Islands: Rarotonga
New Zealand: Antipodes Islands; Adams Island, Auckland Island, Enderby Island (Auckland Islands); Campbell Island (Campbell Islands); Chatham Islands; Great Barrier Island; Kapiti Island; North Island; Raoul Island (Kermadec Islands); Rangitoto Island; Big Solander Island (Solander Islands); South Island; Stewart Island; Tiritiri Matangi Island; Putauhina Island (Titi Islands)
Samoa: Savai’i

local names:

kiokio – New Zealand

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References:

[1] André Luís Gasper; Vinícius Antonio de Oliveira Dittrich; Alan R. Smith; Alexandre Salino: A classification for Blechnaceae (Polypodiales: Polypodiopsida): New genera, resurrected names, and combinations. Phytotaxa 275(3): 191-227. 2016

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edited: 03.02.2018

Digitaria stenotaphrodes (Nees ex Steud.) Stapf

Digitaria stenotaphrodes

Distribution:

Cook Islands: Pukapuka, Suwarrow
Society Islands: Tetiaroa
Tuamotu Archipelago: Anaa, Arutua, Faaite, Fakarava, Fangatau, Hao, Makatea, Makemo, Manihi, Nengonengo, Niau, Rangiroa, Raroia, Takapoto, Takume, Tenararo, Tikehau, Tureia
Tuvalu (?)

local names:

vayavaya – Pukapuka / Cook Islands

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edited: 10.04.2019

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

Dryadomorpha lais (Eyles & Linnavuori)

Rarotongan Dryad Leafhopper (Dryadomorpha lais)

The Rarotongan Dryad Leafhopper, originally described as a distinct species, is now often regarded as being identical with the Metrosideros Dryad Leafhopper (Dryadomorpha metrosideri (Osborn)).

I personally, however, doubt that these two species are identical.

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References:

[1] Herbert Osborn: Cicadellidae of the Marquesas Islands. Bishop Museum Bulletin 114: 239-269. 1935
[2] A. C. Eyles; R. Linnavuori: Cicadellidae and Issidae (Homoptera) of Niue Island, and material from the Cook Islands. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 1(1): 29-44. 1974

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edited: 23.06.2017