Kamehameha Butterfly. Photo courtesy of DLNR

People don’t always think of butterflies as insects, though when they’re in the caterpillar stage, you’re reminded of which kingdom they’re from. Hawai‘i’s native butterfly, the Kamehameha butterfly, is a unique member of the insect kingdom and was named after a king. These are some of the things children of all ages will learn in the just-released educational book, “Butterfly for a King,” according to a news release from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Illustrated and authored by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore respectively, the pair visited Hawai‘i to research the Kamehameha butterfly.

“Their book traces the history of Hawai‘i’s official state insect, literally starting from when the Hawaiian Islands were formed to the present day,” said Will Haines an entomologist and butterfly researcher with the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife. Haines’ research is featured in the book.

Butterfly for a King, a book about the Kamehameha Butterfly, by Cindy Trumbore and Susan L. Roth. Photo courtesy of DLNR

“When the author and illustrator were here, we took them into the field as a sort of ground-truthing exercise. They interviewed me, visited our butterfly rearing facility, and saw butterflies and the plants that support them,” Haines added.

The book includes stories of various people involved in the protection of the Kamehameha butterfly, including the school children who petitioned the state legislature to make it the state insect. Haines said the book is accessible and understandable for kids of all ages. “Some of the text is very simple so young keiki can follow the story and then it includes an appendix for older children who want to learn more.” A teacher’s guide is available for educators who want to use it as a textbook in the classroom.

While the Kamehameha butterfly is not currently listed as an endangered or threatened species, it faces plenty of threats, including loss of habitat and predation.