The monarch butterflies are hard at work on their reproductive cycle at the Hāna this time of year, and the caterpillars are everywhere! Our agronomy team took notice that they appear to be feeding on both the ballon plant Asclepias physocarpa, and the lantana plant Lantana camera.
Unlike most monarch butterflies, the ones found in Hawaii spend all their time here and don’t migrate thousands of miles annually, as the ones on the mainland do. Can you blame them?
The monarch butterflies found in Hawai’i are not a unique species but rather Danaus plexippus, the same as is found on the rest of the American mainland. In the mid 1800’s the milkweed plant (one of the monarch’s host plants), Calotropis gigantea, was introduced to the islands. Shortly thereafter the monarch was detected in the Hawaiian Islands. Now we see them all over the ranch and our team loves it!