Special Kind Of Monarch Grows To Adulthood At Kailua School

School mascots can be fun and frivolous, but students at Huakailani School for Girls – home of the Butterflies – are learning about life cycles and our fragile environment by raising and releasing Monarch butterflies on their Kailua campus.


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Huakailani students (from left) Leilani, Hailey, Lauren, Eve and Sariana greet the butterflies that emerge from their incubation tank. The Kailua school mascot is the butterfly, and the girls released at least 30 of them Feb. 27 (and about 100 this school year). Huakailani helps the Butterfly Restoration Project boost the Monarch population by first 'rescuing' the caterpillars from the campus crown flower garden. Photos from Kaori Brown.

“All of the butterflies raised in the school are caterpillars that the students have personally rescued from the school’s urban crown flower garden,” explained head of school Kaori Brown. “This school year, they have raised and released more than 100 butterflies.” About 30 were released on Feb. 27 alone.

“The project has been a perfect fusion of science and environmental stew-ardship,” Brown noted. Huakailani is working in cooperation with the Butterfly Restoration Project, and the 5- to 12-year-old humans have become enthusiastic caretakers of the pretty Monarchs.

They need the protection, Brown explained, because overuse of pesticides has decreased their population over the past decade.

Monarch are believed to have been released here originally or “lost their way from California.” Pesticides aside, Hawaii’s climate is just right for their caterpillar-to-butterfly lifestyle. Monarchs can be identified by bright orange with black and white markings and black body. Look for white dots that are found only on the wings’ black edges. They prefer milkweed, but settle for crown flowers and other close-cousin plants.