Rothschild’s Birdwing

The Rothschild’s Birdwing (Ornithoptera rothschildi), is a large butterfly from the birdwing genus endemic to the Arfak Mountains, Western New Guinea. The Rothschild’s Birdwing has the most restricted distribution of all birdwings. Its preferred habitat is flowering meadows in an altitude from 6500 to 8800 feet.

The females can reach a wingspan up to 6 inches. The forewings are dark brown to blackish brown with creamy white to grayish spots. The hindwings rimmed with black scales and have a central patch of golden with black tips. The abdomen has hairy black rings. The wingspan of the males is just over 5 inches and the body length is about 3.15 inches. The forewings of the males are surrounded with black scales and in the central area with blackish, yellowish-green and yellow scales. The hindwings have black scales on the edge. The central patch is yellow with black tips abutting with smaller spots which are colored lime green. The abdomen is golden.

This species was first recognized by entomologist Carl Brenders Pratt and described by George H. Kenrick in 1911. It was named in honour of Lord Walter Rothschild who financed most of the expeditions.

Photo Credit: Robert Nash Curator of Entomology, Ulster Museum