In the Beginning

 

What Can Be Done?

Destruction of the natural forest is the main threat. The indigenous peoples living in the forests where rare species are found naturally desire money to improve their health, education and other prospects. They are encouraged to clear the land through logging for tropical hardwoods or for planting banana, palm and other cash crops thus destroying the vines on which the birdwings depend.

How can such insects be protected?

Ironically, one solution maybe for the indigenous people to be encouraged to farm these insects by planting their food plants, harvesting a few specimens and selling them for high prices. The breeders and collectors of the insects (the local people) should receive a good price instead of the
middlemen. This should encourage habitat preservation, the survival of the local wildlife species and give the indigenous people an income.

Barry Cogswell

Paradise Birdwing, Chimaera Birdwing, Tithonus Birdwing

It can be seen that, although these three species have very similar colouring and patterning, the wing shapes of each are very different. They also occupy very specific habitats.

The Paradise Birdwing has the uniquely shaped hind wing and is found on the northwest slopes of a high mountain range, which forms a backbone of New Guinea. On the other side of the range is found the similar shaped Meridionalis Birdwing.

Chimera has a somewhat squared forewing and flies in scattered steep and damp gorges high in the mountains of New Guinea. It flies above the canopy.
Tithonus has the strange spatula shaped wings rather reminiscent of the Alexandria and Victoria birdwings. It has a coppery orange sheen to the wings, which is suggestive of the Croesus Birdwing although that butterfly is mostly orange with a green sheen. Tithonus flies at lower altitudes up to 1200 meters and is apparently found in a very small area of the Onin Peninsular and nearby islands.
For more information refer to the specific butterfly.

He Saw it was Good: O. paradisae & chimaera & tithonus
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2004

Acrylic on birch ply & saw-chain

H 48” w 46” 122cm x 117cm