Friday 17 May
Borneo birdwing (Troides andromache)
Borneo birdwing fact file
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Borneo birdwing description
Birdwings are large, tropical butterflies of the Papilionidae family and include arguably some of the most spectacular, butterfly species in the world. Troides birdwings are known for the striking contrast of their black and yellow colouration. The male Borneo birdwing (Troides andromache), has yellow hindwings with black borders and veins. The forewings are primarily black, but on the underside, show whitish streaks towards the outer edge of the wing. The female can be distinguished from the male by its paler-coloured forewings, which are primarily whitish to tan-brown, and its different pattern of black and yellow on the hindwings (3).Top
Borneo birdwing biology
Little has been documented on the biology of this species, but there are certain biological characteristics known to be common to most, if not all, birdwing butterflies. After mating, females immediately seek out appropriate host plants on which to lay their eggs, usually on plants of the genera Aristolochia and Pararistolochia (both in the family Aristolochiaceae), on which the caterpillar larvae subsequently feed (6). Once the caterpillars hatch, they voraciously munch through the leaves around them. Feeding upon these plants also serves as a defensive mechanism, as they contain certain chemicals that make the caterpillars toxic and therefore unpalatable to most predators (7). The caterpillars eventually pupate and undergo metamorphosis into adult butterflies, and may even manage to maintain toxic chemicals in their tissues into adulthood (7). Troides birdwings typically pupate on the twigs or stems of plants close to the larval food plant or on the food plant itself (3). Adults of this species feed on nectar of Mussaenda blossom and other flowers (5).Top
Borneo birdwing range
The Borneo birdwing is endemic to the island of Borneo (3). There are two subspecies of this birdwing: Troides andromache andromache occurs in Sabah, and Troides andromache marapokensis occurs in northern Sarawak. The Indonesian part of the island (Kalimantan) is not well researched, and it is not known whether the species also occurs there (4).Top
Borneo birdwing habitatTop
Borneo birdwing statusTop
Borneo birdwing threats
The principal threats to Troides butterflies are deforestation and pressure from an increasing human population (4) (9). The Borneo birdwing population at Mount Kinabalu is under considerable threat from human ‘development’, and this beautiful butterfly has now sadly disappeared from many of its former localities around Mount Kinabalu, Sabah (4) (6). Little current data seems to be available on the status of this butterfly elsewhere (4).Top
Borneo birdwing conservation
The endemic Borneo birdwing is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning that any international trade in this species should be carefully monitored (2). Additional protection is afforded to Troides andromache in the Kinabalu area, where it occurs within the boundaries of National Park lands around Mount Kinabalu (4) (8).Top
Authenticated (05/08/08) by John Tennent, Scientific Associate, Department of Entomology, The Natural History Museum, London.Top
- A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- Stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
- Of the stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
- An abrupt physical change from the larval to the adult form.
- Montane forest
- Forest occurring in the montane zone, a zone of cool upland slopes below the tree line dominated by large evergreen trees.
- The process of forming a pupa, the stage in an insect’s development when huge changes occur that reorganise the larval form into the adult form. In butterflies the pupa is also called a chrysalis.
- A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
IUCN Red List (May, 2011)
CITES (July, 2006)
- Haugum, J. and Low, A.M. (1985) A Monograph of the Birdwing Butterflies. Scandinavian Science Press, Klampenborg.
- Tennent, J. (2008) Pers. comm.
The World of Birdwing Butterflies (July, 2006)
Akinori Nakanishi, M., Jalil, F. and Wahid, N. (2004) Catalogue of Swallowtail Butterflies (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae) at BORNEENSIS. Institute for Tropical Biology & Conservation (ITBC), Sabah, Malaysia. Available at:
Tree of Life Web Project (July, 2006)
- Yen, S.H. and Yang, P.S. (2001) Illustrated Identification Guide to Insects Protected by the CITES and Wildlife Conservation Law of Taiwan. R.O.C. Council of Agriculture, Taiwan.
Troides andromache (July, 2006)
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