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Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing Butterfly

The largest butterfly in the world.

The species was named by Lord Walter Rothschild in 1907, in honour of Queen Alexandra, wife of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. It is restricted to the forests of Oro Province in eastern Papua New Guinea.

Now endangered, the population is restricted to approximately 100 square kilometres of coastal rainforest near Popondetta, Oro Province, Papua New Guinea.

The major threat for this species is rain forest destruction for oil palm plantations. Because of its rarity this butterfly fetches a very high price on the black market.

Our male specimen is shown above. The female is twice the size!
Both are on display in the World Wildlife gallery.

With a wingspan of 31cm (the male butterfly can reach 20cm but is more usually about 16cm), a body length of 8cm and a body mass of up to 12g this is the largest butterfly in the world. Females are larger than males with markedly rounder, broader wings.

The female has brown wings with white markings and a cream-coloured body with a small section of red fur on its thorax. Males are smaller than females with brown wings that have iridescent blue and green markings and a bright yellow abdomen.