Not only are butterflies among the most exquisite creatures on the planet, but they also play a critical ecological role as pollinators and have been essential in human culture for hundreds of years. A 3500-year-old painting of a butterfly has been found in Egypt, and butterflies are frequently mentioned in poetry and songs around the world.
In a race, they could defeat a horse, and they could endure a blizzard. These butterflies and moths are capable of handling any difficulty. Because beating the competition is everything, certain species have been compelled to become bigger, stronger, taller, and faster in order to prevail in the race for survival.
The largest butterfly in the world is the Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing (Ornithoptera alexandrae), which is native to the rainforests of Papua New Guinea. The wingspan of the Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing can reach up to 30 centimeters (12 inches) and it can weigh up to 12 grams. The butterfly was named after Queen Alexandra of Denmark, the wife of King Edward VII of England, in 1907.
Biggest Butterflies in the world
The largest species of these lovely critters will be discussed in this article. These are the ten biggest butterflies, measured by their widest wings.
1. Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing (11-inch wingspan):
Queen Alexandra’s birdwing, which has an enormous 11-inch wingspan, is the biggest butterfly in the world. This butterfly has the name of Alexandra of Denmark, who reigned as Empress of India and Queen of the United Kingdom between 1901 to 1910.
The only location where Queen Alexandra’s birdwing can be found is a 40-square-mile area of coastal rainforest in Papua New Guinea. It is considered to be endangered. As a result, only three insects, including this butterfly, are included in Appendix I of CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species), which forbids the export of any specimens of this species. Queen Alexandra’s birdwing numbers decreased as a result of habitat loss brought on by Mt. Lamington’s volcanic eruption in 1951.
2. Goliath Birdwing (10-11 inch wingspan):
The Goliath Birdwing (ornithoptera goliath), which has a wingspan of up to 10-11 inches, is the second-largest butterfly in the world. Like many butterfly species, the male Goliath Birdwing is more colorful than the female, who is browner in hue. By mating with the more colorful males, it’s possible that females have influenced the diversity of butterfly colors.
3. African Giant Swallowtail (9.1-inch wingspan):
Huge African gigantic swallowtail butterflies measure 9.1 inches in width. This butterfly, which is the biggest in all of Africa, has a wide geographic distribution that spans 12 nations in the continent. Because it is exceedingly toxic and can result in illness and even death if consumed, the African gigantic swallowtail lacks any natural predators. This butterfly’s conservation status is “data deficient,” which means there is not enough data to assign it to a specific category.
4. Buru Opalescent Birdwing (7.9-inch wingspan):
The Buru opalescent birdwing butterfly has a remarkable wingspan that is comparable in size to Rippon’s birdwing, measuring 7.9 inches wide. Only found in Buru, the Moluccas Islands of Indonesia, this butterfly lives at elevations between 1300 and 1600 meters. As a vulnerable species, the Buru opalescent birdwing is in danger of going extinct in the wild. The main threats to these butterflies are habitat loss from logging and the taking of specimens.
5. Rippon’s Birdwing (7.9-inch wingspan):
The enormous wingspan of the Rippon’s birdwing butterfly can measure up to 7.9 inches. Although it is protected and only found on the Indonesian islands of Sulawesi and the Moluccas, this butterfly is not in danger of extinction. It is believed that Rippon’s birdwing uses its bright yellow coloring to fool predators and simulate a wasp as a protective measure.
6. Wallace’s Golden Birdwing (7.5-inch wingspan):
The remarkable wingspan of Wallace’s golden birdwing can measure up to 7.5 inches. This butterfly was once considered vulnerable, but after successful conservation efforts to stop international commerce, it was reclassified as near threatened in 2018. Indonesia is home to Wallace’s golden birdwing, which prefers lowland swamp habitats.
Alfred Russel Wallace, who initially described the species in 1859, is honored by having this butterfly bear his name. When Wallace first saw the stunning butterfly, he wrote in his book The Malay Archipelago, “On taking it out of my net and opening the glorious wings, my heart began to beat violently, the blood rushed to my head, and I felt much more like fainting than I have done when in the apprehension of immediate death.” Wallace continued, “On taking it out of my net and opening the glorious wings.
7. Magellan Birdwing (7.1-inch wingspan):
A Magellan birdwing butterfly’s wingspan can measure up to 7.1 inches. The conservation status of this butterfly, which may be found on Orchid Island in the Philippines and Taiwan, is the least concern. The Magellan birdwing has iridescent wings that cause blue and green light to be refracted when viewed from an oblique angle. This butterfly bears the name Ferdinand Magellan in honor of the explorer who perished in the Philippines in 1521.
8. Miranda Birdwing (6.5-inch wingspan):
Borneo and Sumatra are home to the Miranda birdwing butterfly, which has a wingspan that can reach 6 to 12 inches. Since it is not endangered, this butterfly is regarded as being of the least concern. The Miranda birdwing is named after Miranda Butler, a biologist who first described the species in 1869.
9. Lesser Batwing (6.4-inch wingspan):
The Asian lesser batwing butterfly has a wingspan that can reach 6.4 inches. Northern India, Myanmar, Bhutan, northern Vietnam, northern Laos, and southern China are the main locations where this butterfly can be found. The lesser batwing is not a very common species, yet it is not a threatened species. This butterfly is prized in the natural world for both its eye-catching coloring and its beautiful flying.
10. Jamaican Giant Swallowtail (6-inch wingspan):
The maximum wingspan for the female Jamaican gigantic swallowtail, often referred to as the Homerus swallowtail, is roughly 6 inches. This Jamaican endemic butterfly is listed as threatened. There are currently just two isolated populations in Jamaica. The Jamaican gigantic swallowtail has an unusual structure behind its head called an osmeterium that releases a foul odor when the caterpillar senses a threat from predators.
The size, colour, and shape of the roughly 24,000 butterfly species are incredibly varied. A butterfly’s wings are interestingly covered in tiny scales that are between 30 and 80 micrometres wide and 30 to 500 micrometres long in a region that refracts light to create the vivid colours we see. Bright patterns on butterfly wings are believed to have a variety of functions, including luring partners and fooling predators.