When you first hear about the paradise birdwing butterfly, you might be wondering. What is that? Is that a bird or a butterfly? The answer is, of course, butterfly. What else makes this West Papua animal so unique and special? We are about to find out, so read on.
All About These Paradise Birdwing Butterflies
So, what do we know about these rare and beautiful creatures?
Paradise birdwing butterfly has a Latin name, Ornithopthera paradisea arfakensis. It is one of the seven sub-species of Ornithopthera paradisea. From its Latin name, we can already tell that it is an endemic of the Arfak Mountains, West Papua. They can be discovered at around 1,580 metre in height.
It is a butterfly, but the striking yellow, with a small patch of green and black lines on their wings, make them look like birds from afar. The size of their wings qualifies them to be called giant butterflies instead.
The shape of their wings is also the cause for them being mistaken as birds instead of butterflies. They are huge and wide. The widest span of the male, West Papuan animals’ wings can stretch as far as 12 cm, bigger than the average of butterflies.
The adult males of paradise birdwing butterflies fly high around the trees. They only glide down when it is time to feed themselves off the existing flowers grown from the ground. Meanwhile, their female counterparts are larger. The upper range of their wingspan has dark brown as their basic colour.
The female of this species has a much wider wingspan than their male counterparts. A female paradise birdwing butterfly can have wings as wide as between 15 to 21 cm.
These butterflies do not only live in West Papua, but also Papua New Guinea. They possess strong sexual dysmorphia. Since they are easily found on the Arfak Mountains, paradise birdwing butterflies are more accustomed to chilly weather and lowland, forest-like environments.
Another famous name for this butterfly is The Queen Alexandria’s Birdwing Butterflies. Rare and beautiful, these giant butterflies remain a mystery. They are growing even more rare and even worse – they are facing extinction. It is getting even harder to spot them in nature.
The Unfortunate Fate of The Paradise Birdwing Butterflies
It is unfortunate that all beautiful living things on earth – just like these West Papuan animals – are often prey to hunting predators. Massive habitat destruction and other environmental threats have endangered the lives of these paradise birdwing butterflies, not only in West Papua but also in Papua New Guinea and other surrounding areas.
There have been major efforts to slow down deforestation and other destructive means in the environment. One way is to preserve the mangrove forests and there are more environmental development being done in West Papua.
Paradise birdwing butterflies – just like all butterflies – are generally timid and peaceful creatures. They are harmless to humans and any other creatures on earth. Although they look beautiful and tempting, it is best to hold yourself back from trying to capture any of them.
To take part in preserving paradise birdwing butterflies, here are some things that you can do:
- When you see one, never try to catch them. It is okay if you only want to capture it with your camera.
- Be proactive. If you see anyone on the site in West Papua trying to catch even a single butterfly, call them out on it. Even one person’s act matters.
- Get yourself involved in charities that support keeping these beautiful and rare creatures alive.
West Papua is full of beautiful things in nature – plants and animals alike. These paradise birdwing butterflies get to live longer and reproduce more offspring if humans stop being predators.