Researchers from the University of Hawaii say they’ve identified a tiny newcomer to Hawaii that’s been settling across the islands with “remarkable” speed.
The Sleepy Orange, a butterfly commonly found across the Americas — from the Southern United States all the way to Brazil — was first spotted on Oahu in 2013. It has since become common on Maui, and also spotted on Kauai, Molokai, Hawaii Island and even Kahoolawe.
“The speed with which the Sleepy Orange is establishing itself in Hawaii is remarkable, especially considering how many instances of single-island endemism—insect species isolated on a single island—exist in this archipelago,” UH Professor Daniel Rubinoff said in a press release Thursday. “The butterfly’s range is broad as well, from sea level to 6,800 feet up the slopes of Haleakala.”
According to Rubinoff, who along with UH researcher William Haines is credited with “conclusively identifying” the newcomer, the butterfly is not believed to pose a threat to native plant species.
The Sleepy Orange butterfly.
Francis Joy / University of Hawaii
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