The Birdwing Butterflies of Papua New Guinea Featured in New Natural History Exhibit

Beth Gavrilles, bethgav@uga.edu

Birdwing butterflies, a group that includes the largest butterflies in the world, are the focus of a colorful new display at the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology.

The exhibition, The Birdwing Butterflies of Papua New Guinea, features specimens from the Georgia Museum of Natural History assembled by James W. Porter, Meigs Professor of Ecology Emeritus. They are accompanied by photographs by Carolyn Crist of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and explanatory text by Porter about the butterflies’ ecology, collection history and the extraordinary efforts being made to conserve them.

“It used to be that the only way to collect birdwing butterflies was to shoot them out of the canopy with buck shot,” said Porter. “Now, butterfly farmers in Papua New Guinea have succeeded in rearing eight of the known species of birdwings. Their local knowledge undoubtedly saved these magnificent species from extinction.”

The Birdwing Butterflies of Papua New Guinea is on view in the display cases and lobby of the Odum School of Ecology from Jan. 14 through May 18, 2022. The ecology building is open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

An opening reception, featuring an informal talk by Porter, that was planned for Jan. 18, has been postponed until a later date to be announced soon.

Everyone is encouraged to wear face coverings while inside campus facilities. 

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Species featured in the exhibit include:

Wallace’s Golden Birdwing (aka Flying Chocolate), Ornithoptera croesus Wallace

Goliath Birdwing (aka Flying Mangoe), Ornithoptera goliath

Magellan Birdwing (aka Flying Gold), Troides magellanus

Southern Tailed Birdwing (aka Meridian Birdwing), Ornithoptera meridionalis

Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing (aka Brook’s Birdwing), Trogonoptera brookiana

Rippon’s Birdwing (aka Checker-spot Birdwing), Troides hypolitus

Common Green Birdwing (aka Flying Lime), Ornithoptera priamus