#70 Queen Alexandra's Birdwing

Endangered

Lepidoptera Week 2


This is the world's largest butterfly. I did the pastel life-sized on a 9x12" sheet. In the picture it has an 8" wingspan but it can get up to 9". The female can get up to 11" and there is extreme sexual dimorphism because she is mostly brown with some yellow and differently shaped wings. I do not like doing this pose and squared up composition because it looks too much like when they are pinned up for display. I wanted to show their actual wingspan and if I put it at a jaunty angle, it wouldn't fit. These are so big that the territorial males will even chase off some birds!


The first of these that was caught was literally shot down by a naturalist in 1906. He eventually figured out that he could breed them to support his collecting habit thankfully. Poaching and collecting is not their biggest threat right now, but it does still happen. I saw an article from back in 2007 that said it was possible to get up to $10,000 for a pair. Their biggest threat is habitat loss mainly due to palm oil plantations. A volcano did destroy a good bit of their habitat though as well a while back. They are only found in a small, 40 square mile area of Papua New Guinea.

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