India's Largest Butterfly: Know About Golden Birdwing

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Feb 24, 2022, 10:58

The Himalayan butterfly, Golden Birdwing (Troides Aeacus), is India's largest butterfly. It surpassed the 88-year-old record of Southern Birdwing (Troides Minos) in 2020, a specimen recorded by Brigadier William Harry Evans, a British military officer, and lepidopterist, recorded in 1932.

The female species of the Golden Birdwing measures a wingspan of 194 mm, marginally larger than the measurement of the Southern Birdwing (190 mm). However, the male butterfly is much smaller, at only 106 mm. The female Birdwing was recorded at Didihat in Uttarakhand. On the other hand, the largest male species was measured in the Wankhar Butterfly Museum of Shillong, Meghalaya. The specimen is present at the Butterfly Research Center at Bhimtal.

In 1932, Mr William provided the wingspans of all butterfly species known from the Indian subcontinent. His book is still the standard work on the subject. But the specimen of the largest butterfly measured by him was unknown. So it was treated as a subspecies of the Common Birdwing.

India's Largest Butterfly- Measurement Method

The measurement of India's largest butterfly and 24 other species was published in the latest issue of Bionotes, a quarterly newsletter for research on life forms. The authors of the Bionotes are Shristee Panthee from the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in Yunnan and Peter Smetacek from the Butterfly Research Center at Bhimtal in Uttarakhand.

The authors reveal that the only measurement used in the study of Lepidoptera (the order of the butterfly) is the wingspan. This method measures the butterflies from the wing base to the tip.

The updated wingspan measurements of the three large species after the Golden Birdwings are as follows:

Species

Scientific Name

Measurement

Common Windmill

Byasa polyeuctes

98 mm

Great Windmill 

Byasa dasarada

96 mm

Common Peacock

Papilio bianor

78 mm

All three species are native to Uttarakhand.

The smallest butterfly is the Quaker (Neopithecops Zalmora). The butterfly belongs to the lycaenids or blues family and has a wingspan of 18 mm with a forewing length of 8 mm. The forewing length of the female Golden Birdwing is 90 mm.

India's Largest Butterfly- Scientific Classification

Kingdom

Animalia

Phylum

Arthropoda

Class

Insecta

Order

Lepidoptera

Family

Papilionidae

Genus

Troides

Species

T. Aeacus

Binomial Name

Troides Aeacus

Facts about India's Largest Butterfly

  • The golden Birdwing is a large tropical butterfly belonging to the swallowtail family, Papilionidae.
  • It is a diurnal insect.
  • It has a wingspan reaching 15-16 centimetres (5.9 to 6.3 inches).
  • The males have black forewings with veins bordered by a whitish colour and bright yellow hind wings. The underside and upside of the wings are similar to each other.
  • The females are larger than the males and have dark-brown or black wings.
  • The butterfly has a black head, thorax, and abdomen. Small red patches can also be spotted on the thorax and a yellow underside on the abdomen.
  • Caterpillars are pale brown and have long protrusions that resemble thorns.
  • The butterfly mainly feeds on the plant species- Aristolochia and Thottea.
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FAQs About India's largest butterfly

  • Which is India's largest butterfly?

Ans: The Himalayan butterfly named Golden Birdwing (Troides Aeacus) is India's largest butterfly.

  • Which butterfly held the record of India's largest butterfly for 88 years?

Ans: The Southern Birdwing (Troides Minos), a specimen recorded in 1932 by Brigadier William Harry Evans, a British military officer, and lepidopterist, held the record of India's largest butterfly for 88 years.

  • What is the wingspan of India's largest butterfly?

Ans: The female species of the Golden Birdwing measures a wingspan of 194 mm. It is marginally larger than the former largest butterfly, Southern Birdwing (190 mm).