Happy Friday, Lepidoptera Lovers!!! We hope you’re having a great Friday. We’ve reviewed our Friday Flyers posts and discovered something interesting. Of all the various species we’ve featured, we typically receive the highest number of likes and shares when we bring you Birdwing Butterflies. And that’s understandable because Birdwings are stunningly beautiful. So get ready to like and share this week’s featured species with your Facebook Friends, because this week is dedicated to Ornithoptera rothschildi, the Rothschild Birdwing!
Most butterfly species have been given Latin names that either allude to some aspect of the butterfly like its color or geographical origin, or sometimes the name will be a reference to a mythological or past historical character. During the last hundred years or so, it has become more acceptable to name a new species after a living person or family. Ornithoptera rothschildi is named for Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild, the famous British collector and naturalist. And there has never been a more fitting person to honor with one of the world’s most beautiful butterflies. Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild, aside from being a member of one of the most influential British families, and aside from being a member of the British Parliament, was one of the top five most important people in Entomology. He also amassed the largest single private collection in history, consisting of millions of specimens, which were housed in his personally owned public museum. His collection of butterflies and insects was donated to the British Museum of Natural History after he died, and is still the most important collection ever assembled.
Ornithoptera rothschildi has the smallest distribution of any Ornithoptera species. It is confined to some fairly isolated valleys in the Arfak Mountains of Irian Jaya, and was discovered in 1911. Reportedly, the males fly fairly high in the trees and the females are somewhat reclusive. Both will visit flowers at ground level when available. Rothschildi is a relatively small Birdwing, with males having wingspans in the 4 ½ to 5-inch range, and females being usually near 6-inches. Like most Birdwings, rothschildi is richly colored with neon slightly iridescent green, semi translucent golden-yellow, jet black, and some bright red on the body. The markings vary in the number and size, but not as much as some of the other Birdwing species. There are several described forms, but only one subspecies. Their caterpillars eat the same types of Aristolochia vines as other Birdwings. The females of rothschildi are some of the most beautiful among the Ornithoptera species, having much more bright yellow than most of the other species. We have included pictures of a beautiful pair of rothschildi butterflies today. If you look closely at the male underside, you will see lots of hairs on the hind wings near the body. These are “andriconial hairs”, pheromone producing hairs that help to attract the females. All Birdwing males have them in the same location, enclosed in a “pocket” that folds closed when in flight. On both sides of the hind wings, the green patch surrounded by the yellow creates an incredibly vivid contrast that is truly magnificent!!! You can see why rothschildi is one of our favorites.
In the last few years rothschildi has become somewhat less available. This is due in part to the abandonment of some butterfly farms that raised this species, and also to some overly protective international restrictions. Ornithoptera rothschildi, like all Birdwing species is available only with special permits. We have a beautiful framed pair of these seldom seen butterflies in our Wonders Of Nature department. They are expertly spread and matted, and priced at only $250. If you’re looking for a perfect addition to your own collection, we’d suggest this pair of magnificent butterflies. Next time you’re in the neighborhood, we hope you’ll stop in and see us. See you on the trail!
And don’t forget to visit the Friday Flyers archive on our website. You can now refer to all of the past editions complete with all the photos, in a stable and permanent format. We hope you’ll visit our website and check it out at:
We hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of Friday Flyers. We love sharing our interest in butterflies and insects with you. Please enjoy the photos we have posted with this week’s edition, and be sure to see all the previous pictures in our Friday Flyers album. Remember to “like” our Wonders Of Nature page, and be sure to pass it along to all your Facebook Friends. We hope you’ll visit our Wonders Of Nature department soon, and we look forward to seeing you.