In The Press - Hawaii News Now: "Butterfly-themed tea experience aims to protect endangered Monarchs"

2 kids at the Moana Surfrider butterfly afternoon English tea time in Waikiki Honolulu Hawaii

In The Press - Hawaii News Now: "Butterfly-themed tea experience aims to protect endangered Monarchs" - May 6, 2024

By Annalisa Burgos and Lili Hurd

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Every second Saturday of the month, hundreds of butterflies greet guests at the Moana Surfrider’s afternoon tea at the Veranda -- an intimate encounter with nature’s majestic monarchs.

People can feed and take pictures with caterpillars and butterflies brought by nonprofit Paradise Monarchs. At the end of the event, the butterflies are released into the wild.

Guests are invited to learn about the lifecycle of the monarch butterfly, which has seen its population decline since the 1980s.

Paradise Monarchs owner Henry Fang says less than 5 percent of monarchs reach the final stage of metamorphosis due to predators, climate change and destruction of their habitat.

He raises and releases the endangered butterflies and educates the public about efforts to save them through unique experiences like this.

“There’s a myth that you can’t touch a butterfly. It’s okay to handle them gently with their wings closed. That’s the safe way to do it.” Fang said.

Butterflies drink nectar through what’s called proboscis, which acts like a tube since they cannot chew.

“Butterflies taste with their feet. To feed them, place this nectar stick right under their feet. It takes patience and maybe a few tries to pick them up gently,” Fang said.

As they sip, you can too... on your choice of artisanal teas and a tea-infused mimosa flight.

“Hosting afternoon tea with butterflies is thrilling,” said Justin Shaw, assistant director of F&B at Moana Surfrider. “A lot of people think it’s mostly for the keiki, but I honestly think the adults enjoy it more than the keiki.”

Shaw also showcased the various sweet and savory pastries and desserts crafted by their award-winning chefs.

“There’s our smoked salmon. We do have our truffle egg. We have our ratatouille tart. We have our salmon croissant sandwich there. And then we have our famous blueberry orange scones. We have lilikoi curd, which is very popular. We have our coconut haupia roll which we’ve been serving for afternoon tea for almost, you know, eight plus years,” Shaw said.

After engaging with the butterflies, it’s time to let them go so they can help grow Hawaii’s population.

“We actually do releases as well as part of the afternoon tea time. Each table gets their own butterfly and they do a release,” Shaw said.

Before takeoff, each butterfly undergoes a health check to ensure it is free from parasites.

Fang tells us about an old legend that says if you whisper your wish to a monarch butterfly, it will come true.

Perhaps a good time to wish to save the majestic monarch and our fragile ecosystem that depends on them.

Afternoon tea at the Veranda is served Fridays through Sundays from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. The monarch butterfly experience is offered every second Saturday of the month.

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In The Press - Hawaii News Now: "Butterfly-themed tea experience aims