Scientists seek public’s help documenting state butterfly


HONOLULU — Scientists in Hawaii are seeking the public’s help in documenting locations where the state butterfly can be found, saying they don’t believe the insect’s population is doing as well as it should be.

University of Hawaii professor Dan Rubinoff said the Kamehameha butterfly is not in a lot of locations where it used to be, KHON-TV reported.

Another researcher, Will Haines, said the Kamehameha butterfly is one of only two native butterflies in Hawaii.

“It’s a component of the biodiversity that would really be a shame to lose,” Haines said. “If we lose one species, we’re actually losing food resources for other species, we’re losing pollinators.”

Rubinoff, Haines and others are hoping the public will get involved in a scientific study called the Pulelehua Project. It’s a collaboration between researchers and the public.

Researchers are hoping for help especially from hikers who may come across the butterfly in the rain forest.

“Every single person that gives us data makes that picture clearer and clearer and clearer,” Rubinoff said. “Once we have a really clear picture of how it’s doing, we’ll be able to identify the threats that it’s facing and help it face those threats more effectively.”

Researchers are asking that people who see the butterfly, caterpillar, egg or chrysalis submit any photos and observations to the project website.