Fashion Tribe

Butterflies a natural accessory to summer

June 26th, 2013


Nadine Kam photos
Khrystyn Phillips dressed in a Bar III dress ($69) from Macy's and butterflies.

The opening of Pearlridge Center's exhibition, “Flutter: A Green Experience,” provided the perfect backdrop for a summertime fashion shoot, with the spirit of the outdoors and the garden, and of course, the perfect natural "accessories," though getting the butterflies to cooperate was a little bit of a challenge.

First, we had to start early, at 7:30 in the morning. Exhibition developer Tom Cleavinger, of Michigan-based Creative RT, which sets up educational exhibitions for museums, malls and other institutions around the country, said morning is when the butterflies are the most docile. They start becoming more active and fluttery as the day warms up.

Inside the Butterfly Pavilion are approximately 125 monarch, rare white monarch and citrus swallowtail butterflies, and families are invited in to observe their life cycle from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis, until their final transformation into a beautiful, fragile-looking winged creature.

Uthpala Walpola with one of "Butterfly Realtor" Dancetta Feary's monarchs.

Non-flash video link

We had to be careful opening the doors, lest any of them escape, as well as watch our step as some land on the ground, perilously close to the back of a foot that stomp in the wrong place at any second.

Picking up the butterflies was a matter of coaxing them to step up. We never grabbed, and the general public who goes through the pavilion will not be allowed to do this. The butterflies do land on people, though, and that's OK.

One landed on our photographer's head, and he went through the shoot with stowaway happily clinging to his Kangol hat. Another landed in my lap as I was sitting trying to adjust my video camera. It helps to enter with a calm, zen spirit because butterflies pick up on human anxiety and become stressed and nervous themselves.

What the butterflies didn't like was tour models' hair. They could be moved anywhere on their bodies, but flew away as soon as they got near the hair. Cleavinger said they probably don't like the hairspray, so he suggested rubbing some orange juice—which they do like, along with Gatorade and other fruit juices—into their hair to make it work.

It was so much fun, I could have spent all day in the pavilion!

Here are the details:

Where: Pearlridge Center
When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays, through July 14
Cost: $3 to enter Butterfly Pavilion; free for ages 7 and younger
Into: 808.488.0981 or Pearlridge­

Donations earn gifts
Donate two shopping bags of new or gently used apparel, shoes, handbags or accessories for Goodwill Industries of Hawaii from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and July 6 and receive a desktop planter, above, or two butterfly magnets from Pearlridge Center.
Pearlridge Uptown collection spots: Center Court, The Body Shop, Diamond Fairy, Razor Concepts, Razor Sports, Sephora, Tapestries by Hauoli and T&C Surf Designs. Pearlridge Downtown collection sites: HIC, Mark’s Hallmark and Sanrio Surprises.
A portion of sales of $22 Adopt-a-Butterfly kits will also benefit Goodwill.


The average visitor won't be able to handle the butterflies as we did, but you might become a landing pad for a butterfly. Our photographer, Craig T. Kojima, had to go about his work with this little stowaway on his cap for about 15 minutes.

Monarchs in Hawaii tend to be short-lived because of the warm climate. The butterflies live about two weeks, while fall-born migrating monarchs on the mainland may live up to nine months while seeking the warm climate of California or Mexico to mate and complete their life cycle.


Citrus swallowtails are also featured in the exhibit.

The monarch caterpillars live to devour crown flower plants. Their numbers have plummeted in the past four decades, so Feary encourages people to plant crown flower plants.

These monarchs have just emerged from their chrysalises.

These butterflies are feeding on a mash of apples and bananas.

While these butterflies prefer a bit of orange juice. In the wild, they would be sipping on flower nectar.

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