The Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing is believed to be the largest butterfly in the world, with a wingspan up to 11 inches.
The average Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing butterfly ranges between 6-10 inches (15-25 cm). For comparison, this makes them significantly larger than any North American swallowtail or moth species. Of course, size isn’t what matters when it comes to butterflies. From courtship rituals to colors and patterns, each species has its own unique evolutionary story that can provide insight into how they relate within their ecosystem; for example, why some are attracted to flowers while others feed on rotting fruit. Butterflies are fascinating creatures with an incredible diversity of knowledge waiting outside your back door!
Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing was discovered in Papua New Guinea in 1906. It is the largest butterfly in existence. The butterflies wingspan ranges from 6-10 inches (15 – 25 cm). The largest male can be even bigger than the female with a 12 inch wingspan.
The Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing is also known for its size but more importantly, its beauty and rarity! This species is restricted to lowland rain forests in Papua New Guinea and is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) due to over-collection for the collector’s trade.
The Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing butterfly feeds on poisonous plants and has a camouflage pattern that makes it seem like part of their surroundings, which helps them avoid predators.
The largest butterfly in the world is also one of the rarest. The Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing (Ornithoptera alexandrae) lives in only a fraction of its former range and is classified as critically endangered. “In human-modified landscapes they are very vulnerable to being killed by cars as they cross roads, and their host plants are under attack from agriculture,” says lepidopterist David Wagner of the University of Connecticut. “The forests where these butterflies live have undergone wholesale destruction.”