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Queen Alexandra's Birdwing Butterfly

Troides alexandrae

Status: Endangered, FWS
Status: Endangered, IUCN
Listed by FWS: September 21, 1989
Family: Papilionidae (Bird-winged Butterfly)
Description: Largest butterfly in the world; females have a wingspan of up to 10 in. (25 cm) and are dark brown in color; males have a wingspan of 6.5-7.5 in. (17-19 cm) and are light blue, yellow, green, and black in color.
Habitat: Primary and advanced secondary lowland rain forest in or near the Popondetta Plain, Papua New Guinea.
Food: Unknown
Reproduction: Unknown
Threats: Habitat loss due to development of cocoa and rubber plantations; illegal collection.
Range: Papua New Guinea (Popondetta Plain, Northern Province)

Description

Queen Alexandra's birdwing butterfly, Troides alexandrae , is the largest butterfly in the world. The females have a wingspan of up to 10 in (25 cm) and are dark brown in color. The males have a wingspan of 6.5-7.5 in (17-19 cm) and are light blue, yellow, green, and black in color.

Habitat

T. alexandrea's distribution is restricted to primary and advanced secondary lowland rain forest in or near the Popondetta Plain, a small area in the Northern Province of Papua New Guinea.

Distribution

T. alexandrae occurs only in a small part of Papua New Guinea. Its distribution is restricted to primary and advanced secondary lowland rain forest in or near the Popondetta Plain, a small area in the Northern Province of Papua New Guinea.

Threats

The greatest current threat to T. alexandrae is the expanding oil palm industry in the Popondetta region of Papua New Guinea. The development of cocoa and rubber plantations has also been a problem. These activities eliminate the natural forest required by this species, and have already claimed large tracts of its restricted habitat. Local disappearances of the species are occurring because of clearing of forest to make food gardens. Negotiations to exploit reserves of timber in the region are also underway. This species may also be threatened by illegal collection, and the parasitism of eggs.

Conservation and Recovery

T. alexandrae is completely protected from collection by the laws of Papua New Guinea, and a large wildlife management area has been established within its range, but it is not yet clear that these measures have helped prevent habitat loss, which is the main threat confronting the species.

Source: Beacham's Guide to International Endangered Species, Gale Group. 2001.

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