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File:Kamehameha butterfly (Vanessa tameamea).jpg

The Kamehameha butterfly (Vanessa tameamea) is one of the two species of butterfly endemic to Hawaii, the other is Udara blackburni. The Hawaiian name is pulelehua. This is today a catch-all native term for all butterflies; its origin seems to be pulelo "to float" or "to undulate in the air" + lehua, "reddish," or "rainbow colored," probably due to the predominant color of the Metrosideros polymorpha flower: an animal that floats through the air, from one lehua to another. Alternatively, it is called lepelepe-o-Hina – roughly, "Hina's fringewing" – which is today also used for the introduced monarch butterfly. The Kamehameha butterfly was named the state insect of Hawaii in 2009, due to the work of a group of fifth-graders from Pearl Ridge Elementary. These 5th graders (Robyn-Ashley Amano, Ryan Asuka, Kristi Kimura, Jennifer Loui, Toshiro Yanai and Jenna Yanke) proposed the butterfly as the state insect to various legislators as a project for Gifted and Talented.

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