The Queen Alexandra Birdwing is not only one of the rarest species of butterfly living on earth, it also ranks as the largest known. Long live the Queen.The Queen Alexandra Birdwing is one of the rarest species of butterfly on earth, as well as the largest known.Click To Tweet
The animal is under legal protection since 1966 making it one of the first Lepidoptera to be so protected. In fact, they are one of only three insects on earth for which international trade is illegal.
The IUCN has listed this beautiful insect as Endangered. The greatest threat is not surprisingly habitat loss. They are only known to live in one very specific section of rainforest. However, industrial exploitation of the rainforest in the region currently threatens this habitat. Efforts are underway to designate the section they inhabit as a protected zone. We wish them success.
Queen Alexandra Birdwing Physical Characteristics
The Queen Alexandra Birdwing displays sexual dimorphism in both size and color. Females attain a wingspan of as much as 10 in (25 cm). The Queen is indeed a big girl! The male Queen Alexandra Birdwing’s wingspan is about 8 in (20 cm).
Among the females, wings are brown, with white markings. The wings of the male are much more brightly colored, typically an iridescent blue-green with black bands.
The body of the female Queen Alexandra Birdwing is typically a cream color. Male coloring, however, is more commonly a bright yellow. So – the females are larger, but the males are actually the pretty ones. That is actually a trait present in many species of the animal kingdom.
Queen Alexandra Birdwing Habitat and Ecology
This animal only exists within an extremely restricted section of the Oro Province, in Papua, New Guinea. Their endemic territory consists entirely of dense rainforest, where they not surprisingly blend in well.
The Queen Alexandra Birdwing inhabits areas with an altitude ranging between 1,312-2,625 ft (400-800 m) above sea level.
The female lays up to 240 eggs during her life.
They typically fly in the early morning and late evening. The adults have few natural predators, with the few known exceptions consisting of birds and large spiders. The adults live for approximately three months.