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

Ornithoptera Victorae

Queen Victoria’s Birdwing

These butterflies are restricted to the Solomon Islands where there are seven subspecies most of which are named after the specific island on which they are found. The males have oval shaped wings with the rear wings being very elongated and wrinkled. The most similar species is the Queen Alexandria’s Birdwing.

They fly high in the canopy, and in 1885 when a naturalist with a Royal Navy expedition was keen to capture one, a Royal Marine shot one down with a shotgun. That very butterfly is still part of the collection in the Natural History Museum, London.

  • The males have a wingspan of up to 16 cm.
  • The females have a wingspan of up to 20 cm.

It is classified as indeterminate in the ‘Red Data Book of Threatened Swallowtail Butterflies of the World’

He Saw It Was Good: O. Victoriae
Regina, Female & Resplendans
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2006

Acrylic on birch ply & saw-chain

h 48" x w 46"
122 cm x 117 cm