World’s largest butterfly endangered

This video is about Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing Butterfly.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

World’s largest butterfly disappearing from Papua New Guinea rainforests

Rare Queen Alexandra’s birdwing is losing habitat to logging and oil palm plantation

Posted by Mark Stratton

Monday 30 July 2012 11.35 BST

How large does a butterfly have to be before anybody notices it is disappearing? In the case of Papua New Guinea‘s (PNG) Queen Alexandra’s birdwing, the answer is enormous.

The world’s largest butterfly boasts a 1ft (30cm) wingspan – imagine the width of a school ruler – yet few outsiders in its rainforest home in Oro province in northern PNG have ever seen it. It’s a scenario unlikely to improve as oil palm plantation and logging remorselessly devours this endangered butterfly’s habitat.

Edwardian naturalist Albert Meek first recorded it in 1906 on a collecting expedition to PNG. The fast-flying butterfly frequents high rainforest canopy so Meek resorted to blasting them down by shotgun. The Natural History Museum taxonomically allocated his buckshot-peppered specimens into the birdwing genus (a tropical grouping possessing super-elongated forewings) and named it after Edward VII’s wife.

How does mimicry work in butterflies? Academy researcher Durrell Kapan and his colleagues have found the answer in the butterfly’s genome: here.

Japan may have a real-life Mothra on its hands. Like the giant moth that often battled Godzilla, the butterflies near the site of the 2011 Fukushima disaster may have been mutated by exposure to radiation: here.

September 2012. This wettest summer for a century saw the numbers of many common butterflies fall, the world’s biggest butterfly count has revealed. More than 25,000 people across the UK took part in the Big Butterfly Count 2012, counting over 223,000 butterflies and day-flying moths: here.

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