About the Butterflies
In my paintings, I use the Birdwing butterflies as a symbol of the many animal and plant species that are disappearing as a result of habitat destruction and other human interventions.
There are 11 species of Birdwing butterflies of the genera Ornithoptera
and they are restricted to the New Guinea area. All are rare and some
of the subspecies with very restricted distribution, on small islands
for example, are extremely vulnerable.
The birdwings are all believed to breed on the Aristolochia vines on which they are dependant for their survival.
Some of the most rare genera of birdwings sell for over $ 1000 a pair. Some Island colonies have been completely extirpated by unscrupulous collectors paying the islanders a few cents to gather the butterflies. These are then sold for high prices to other collectors. The main threat to these insects, though, is habitat destruction through logging by governments, companies and local people. Of course, Birdwing butterflies are just a few of the thousands of animal and plant species that are threatened with extinction as a result of the felling of the forests.
I try to render the butterflies in full scale and as accurately as possible.
This is one of the least known of the Birdwings. It is found
only on Obi Island, in the Indonesian Moluccas. Obi has been
closed to outside travel for a great many years and few examples
are in collections. Little is known of the numbers of this butterfly
but it is assumed that the Aesacus is fairly secure, as no logging
has been allowed on the island.
It is classified as indeterminate in the ‘Red Data Book of Threatened Swallowtail Butterflies of the World’.
|O. aesacus Male & Female|
Acrylic on birch ply & poplar
24” w 25.5”