Home / Swallowtail (Papilionidae) / Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing (Trogonoptera brookiana)

Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing (Trogonoptera brookiana)

Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing source: commons.wikimedia.org

The Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing is a species of rare V-winged butterflies that are native to the rainforests in parts of a few Southeast Asian countries. It is the national butterfly of Malaysia, while its export is officially limited to prior permission. These large arthropods have several subspecies, said to be at least 11, each having a minor difference or the other.

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Papilionidae
  • Genus: Trogonoptera
  • Scientific Name: Trogonoptera brookiana

Description and Identification


Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing Caterpillar source: mindenpictures.com

The mature larvae are brown and green with paler brown spikes all over the body. The body is also characterized by buff and grey tubercles along its back and the two sides. After hatching out, they begin to rapidly consume the leaves, before they begin to pupate soon after.


Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing Pupa source: mindenpictures.com

The chrysalis is apple green with violet markings. During this stage, they remain attached vertically to a vine stem by the cremaster with the aid of a silk girdle.

Adult Butterfly

Sexual Dimorphism: Distinctly present

Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, the dorsal sides of the two elongated primary wings in males show a series of leaf-like green patterns over a black base, running parallel to the inner edge of the wings and gradually decreasing by size towards the tip. The small secondary wings are also black with smudges of the same green pigmentation. In the female, the same pattern can be seen except that the black base is replaced by brown and the green patterns by dull yellow. When the wings are closed, the mirror image of the dorsal side is seen, though much lighter and fainter.

Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing Butterflies source: learnaboutbutterflies.com

Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing Butterfly source: birdspiders.com

Average wingspan: 15 to 17 cm (5.9 to 6.7 in)

Flight pattern: Very fast, powerful flaps and erratic


Up to 50 tiny, round white to reddish eggs laid on the host plant leaves

Quick Facts

Distribution Thai-Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Natuna, Sumatra, and some small islands to the west of Sumatra
Habitat Sandy banks of water bodies like rivers and hot springs within the tropical rainforests
Lifespan of adults Around seven days
Host plants Primarily the plants from the genus Bauhinia
Adult diet Flower nectar

Did You Know?

  • Rajah Brooke’s birdwing gets its name in honor of the White Rajah of Sarawak, Captain Brooke, who ruled an English Province in the northern part of the island of Borneo in the 19th century.
  • These butterflies gather in groups consisting of up to 80 individuals for drinking mineralized water from puddles in order to absorb sodium and potassium that they need for activating adult behavior.

Female Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing source: commons.wikimedia.org

Male Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing source: learnaboutbutterflies.com

Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing Images source: learnaboutbutterflies.com

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