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Common Green Birdwing (Ornithoptera priamus)

Common Green Birdwing Butterfly
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The Common Green Birdwing is a large, bright green and black butterfly that belong to the genus Ornithoptera that contains the largest and most spectacular butterflies of the world. The adults can be seen flying year round; however, the highest numbers occur in the fall and summer.

Description and Identification

Caterpillar

Common Green Birdwing Butterfly Caterpillar
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The larva has a reddish brown body with spine-like projections all over the body. These structures are also of the same color as the caterpillar’s body but with bright orange marks in the middle. The tips of the feet of the larva are also bright orange. As they mature, they gradually turn black with the orange parts turning pale yellow.

Scientific Classification

Pupa

The chrysalis is large and bright yellow with brown venations and patches, enough to confuse it with a dead yellow leaf of the host plant. This is primarily for the purpose of camouflaging.

Adult Butterfly

Sexual Dimorphism: Distinctly present

Color and Appearance: Though the species has 99 subspecies, the first specimen was identified back in 1758. When the wings are open, the two primary wings in the males show a leaf-like black mark over a green base, while the wings are bordered with black. Both the wings are elongated and protruding out towards the top outer corners. The secondary wings are rather small and green in color, bordered in black, and with four black dots with their sizes in descending order. The females are considerably larger with all the four wings being dull brown with a chain of white marks toward the outer sides. When the wings are closed, the ventral side is dark-green or bluish with the veins being partly black, while the edge of wing is jet black. The outer edge has a chain of black spots. In the female, the underside is a mirror image of the upper side.

Common Green Birdwing
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Ornithoptera priamus
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Average wingspan: 18 – 22 cm

Flight pattern: Strong flaps with erratic movement

Eggs

Round in shape, laid one at a time, with a bright green coloration and a black dotted circle toward the tip

Quick Facts

Distribution New Guinea, central and south Moluccas, Bismarck Archipelago, Solomon Islands, and north-east Australia
Habitat Only in the tropical rainforests and the bordering areas
Host plants Widely vary between subspecies
Adult diet Flower nectar

Did You Know?

  • The butterfly gets its specific name of ‘priamus’ after Priam – the king of Troy during the Trojan War mentioned in Homer’s Greek epic Iliad.
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