Misumenops rapaensis Berland

Austral Crab Spider (Misumenops rapaensis)

This species is obviously the only native species within the crab spider family, that is known to occur on the Austral Islands, where it is endemic to. As far as it is known, this species occurs on the islands of Rapa, Raivavae, Rurutu and Tubuai, where it can be found at all elevations and in nearly all suitable habitats.

Compared with other species of the family, the Austral Crab Spider isn’t much variable in coloration.

It is quite possible, that the several island populations represent distinct species, furthermore the placement of the species within the genus Misumenops seems to be doubtful.

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Photo: Antonio Machado; by courtesy of Antonio Machado

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

Cheilanthes tenuifolia (Burm. f.) Sw.

Cheilanthes tenuifolia

Distribution:

Austral Islands: Raivavae, Rapa
Fiji: Viti Levu
Gambier Islands: Akamaru, Makaroa
Marquesas: Nuku Hiva
Samoa
Society Islands: Bora Bora, Mai’ao, Me’eti’a, Mo’orea, Ra’iatea, Tahiti

local names: –

Comodica coarctata (Clarke)

Rapa Comodica Moth (Comodica coarctata)

This species was described in the year 1971, it is so far known only from the island of Rapa.

The moth reaches a wingspan of 0,8 to 1 cm.

The caterpillars feed on dead, dry fruits or dry leaves of the Screw Pine (Pandanus tectorius Parkinson ex Du Roi), they hide themselves in a cocoon, constructed of tightly cemented silk, plant fibers and frass.

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References:

[1] J. F. G. Clarke: The Lepidoptera of Rapa Island. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 56. 1971

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Photo: Peter T. Oboyski; by courtesy of Peter T. Oboyski

http://nature.berkeley.edu/~poboyski/Lepidoptera/SocietyIslands.htm

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edited: 15.08.2017

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.

Lobelia anceps L. f.

Lobelia anceps

Distribution:

Austral Islands: Rapa
New Zealand: Rangatira Island (Chatham Islands); Great Barrier Island; Kapiti Island; Raoul Island (Kermadec Islands); North Island; Aorangi Island (Poor Knights Islands); South Island; Three Kings Islands; Tiritiri Matangi Island
Norfolk Islands: Norfolk Island

local names:

punakuru – New Zealand
purao – New Zealand
waewae-koukou – New Zealand

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This species occurs from Australia to South Africa and South America, it is found in Polynesia.

Eurya nitida Korth.

Eurya nitida

Distribution:

Austral Islands: Rapa

local names: –

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I personally doubt that this otherwise Asian species occurs on the Island of Rapa, the Rapan plant is very probably a distinct, endemic species.

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edited: 23.06.2017

Hypena longfieldae Collenette

Longfield’s Snout Moth (Hypena longfieldae)

Longfield’s Snout Moth was described in 1928.

The species is endemic to central Polynesia and can be found on the Austral Islands, the Marquesas and the Society Islands, where it is obviously restricted to higher elevations.

The moth reaches a wingspan of nearly 3 cm, it is extremely variable. [1]

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References:

[1] J. F. G. Clarke: The Lepidoptera of Rapa Island. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 56. 1971

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hypena-longfieldae-pto

Photo: Peter T. Oboyski; by courtesy of Peter T. Oboyski

http://nature.berkeley.edu/~poboyski/Lepidoptera/SocietyIslands.htm

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edited: 03.03.2017

Caesalpinia bonduc (L.) Roxb.

Caesalpinia bonduc

Distribution:

Austral Islands: Rapa
Fiji: Leleuvia, Makaluva, Nasoata, Nayau, Nukuci, Nukulau, Nukulevu, Rotuma, Sawa-i-lau, Vanua Balavu, Vanua Levu, Viti Levu, Yasawa
Gambier Islands: Kamaka
Hawai’i Islands: Hawai’i, Kaua’i, Laysan, Maui, Moloka’i, Ni’ihau, O’ahu
Marquesas: Hatuta’a, Hiva Oa, Mohotani, Nuku Hiva, Tahuata, Ua Huka, Ua Pou
Niue
Norfolk Islands: Norfolk Island
Pitcairn Islands: Henderson Island
Samoa: Apolima, ‘Aunu’u, Manono, Namu’a, Nu’ulua, Nu’utele, Savai’i, ‘Upolu
Tonga: ‘Ata, Fafa, Foa, Niuatoputapu, Oneata, Onevai, Pangaimotu, Tongatapu

local names:

anaoso – Samoa
hihikolo – Hawai’i Islands
kakalaioa – Hawai’i Islands
soni – Vanua Levu / Fiji
tartar mann – Rotuma / Fiji

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References:

[1] Albert C. Smith: Flora Vitiensis Nova: A new flora of Fiji (Spermatophytes only). Vol. 3. Lawai, Kauai, Hawaii 1985