Tapu Lele has a black upper body and head with a few small white markings. Its eyes are blue with a pink line through the middle of each iris. Below each eye is a curved white line and above each is a curved pink line separated into three segments. On its upper body is another, thicker curved white line. Its thin arms have digit-less hands and puffy pink bracelets on each wrist. On top of its head is a mass of dark pink, tentacle-like hair. Two longer strands of hair frame its face. Encasing its dark pink lower body and on top of its head is a shell resembling an insect.
Tapu Lele's shell is primarily light pink. The portion on top of its head is conical with a white diamond marking in the center and a white half-diamond marking below that. Both diamond shapes are framed with black. The shell around its lower body mirrors these diamond markings and has an additional half-diamond on the back. On each side is a hexagon marking consisting of five dark pink triangle and one light pink triangle all outlined in black. These resemble the compound eyes of many insects. There are also projections on the back of the shell that resemble butterfly wings and a small black bump on the bottom similar to a curled proboscis. When closed, the shell resembles a bug's head with small wings.
This guardian of Akala Island is known to scatter glowing scales, which affect others by stimulating and healing their bodies; however, these scales are also dangerous if too many are touched at once. Some consider it to be cruel for the way it destroys others as it scatters its scales for its own amusement. An old legend says that Tapu Lele ended a war between Alola's islands by healing the tired warriors with its scales, but rumors point to a more disturbing truth behind this story. Its strength comes from the energy stored within its shell. If Tapu Lele finds itself at a disadvantage in battle, it will prioritize not outright losing as opposed to trying for a decisive victory. It is said to gain energy from the scent of flowers.
Tapu Lele debuted in Partner Promises!, where Ash encountered it along with Pikachu. It was seen floating over the ocean, and scattered its glowing scales on Ash to heal the wounds he got while rescuing a trapped Wimpod, after which it took off into the sky. After Ash returned to Professor Kukui's house, Rotom identified it as Tapu Lele.
Tapu Lele, the Land Spirit Pokémon. A Psychic and Fairy type. Tapu Lele playfully flutters around while scattering its mysteriously glowing scales. It's said whoever touches its scales is instantly healed.
This concludes the entries from the Sun & Moon series.
Tapu Lele appears to be based on a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. It may also be inspired by Kāne, one of the four major Hawaiian gods. Kāne is a creator god, bestowing life into the first human in Hawaiian mythology.
Tapu Lele may be a combination of tapu (Hawaiian for sacred or holy) and pulelehua (Hawaiian for butterfly).
Kapu-Tetefu may be a combination of kapu (Hawaiian for sacred or holy) and てふてふ tefutefu (an old way of writing butterfly).