The World of Birdwing Butterflies



Ornithoptera priamus was the first birdwing butterfly to be described. It was actually one of only two birdwings ever described by Carl von Linné, in 1758 (the other being Troides helena). The first description of O.priamus, nevertheless, dates back as early as 1717, from Ambon by Vincentius.

O. priamus is the best known birdwing butterfly. It enjoys one of the widest distribution of all the birdwings and it has adapted to a wide range of habitats. It exists in many subspecies and forms. There is considerable variation throughout its area and it is found in all shades from green to blue.

Some authors have attempted to describe some of the subspecies as distinct species, especially O.p.urvillianus. R. Straatman, however, cross-paired O.p.urvillianus with O.p.poseidon and found that they produced generation after generation of fertile hybrids. This proved urvillianus to be a subspecies of O.priamus.

Even today there is much discussion about the taxonomic status of O.p.euphorion and O.p.richmondia from Australia. Several authors argue for upgrading euphorion and richmondia to species rank.

To view the images of this species, click on the name of the species.
To go direct to the images
of a specific subspecies, click on the name of the subspecies.
To go direct to the image of a specific form, click on the name of the form.

O.priamus impensus

Auctor: Parrott, 1990
Distribution: Manipa Is.
Etymology: Impensus = large, strong, expensive.
Described forms:

O.priamus priamus

Auctor: Linnaeus, 1758
Syn.: panthous (female) Linnaeus, 1758
Distribution: Seram, Saparua, Ambon.
Etymology: Priamos was king of Troy, the father of Paris.
Described forms:
mf. divina Fruhstorfer, 1913
mf. priamus Linnaeus, 1758
mf. viridocellularis Schäffler, 2001
  mf. fasciata Schäffler, 2001
  ff. addenda Fruhstorfer, 1913
  ff. harukensis Schäffler, 2001
  ff. pseudobrunneus Schäffler, 2001

O.priamus priamus f.loc. sclavoi

Auctor: Deslisle, 2009
Distribution: Manusela Mts., Seram, 2000+ m
Etymology: Named after Mr Jean-Pierre Sclavo, owner of the type specimens.
Notes: This taxon was described from 4 available specimens, basically due to being distinctly smaller
 than O. priamus priamus from lowland Seram. As size itself is not a strong character for a subspecies,
 I agree with Mr Deslisle to place sclavoi as a f.loc. of O. priamus priamus, rather than a good subspecies.
Described forms:

O.priamus albireo

Auctor: Kobayashi, 1987
Syn.: tayandensis von Knötgen, 1997
Distribution: Kepulauan Tayandu; Kur Is.
Notes: Ohya (1997) regarded O.priamus albireo to be a
synonym of O.priamus hecuba.
Described forms:

O.priamus hecuba

Auctor: Röber, 1891
Distribution: Kai Isls.
Etymology: Hekabe was the queen of Prince Priamos.
Described forms:
mf. nigra Przegandza, 1912
mf. transiens Przegandza, 1912
mf. viridocellularis Przegandza, 1912
mf. kibleri Przegandza, 1912
mf. cyanea sensu Kaiser, 1917
mf. cyanoides Haugum & Low, 1979
mf. immaculata Przegendza, 1912
mf. inaureomaculata Przegandza, 1912
mf. hecuba R&oumlber, 1891
mf. flavomaculata Przegandza, 1912
mf. aurea Kaiser, 1917
mf. insolationecyanea Kaiser, 1917
mf. femineus Parrott & Deslisle, 1989
mf. aureoradians Deslisle & Sclavo, 2008
ff. arlequina Rousseau-Decelle, 1935
ff. margarethae Bryk, 1918
  ff. flavescens Hulstaert, 1924

O.priamus arruana

Auctor: Felder, 1859
Syn.: arruanus Felder, 1864
Syn.: poseidon Wallace, 1865
Syn.: aruana Godman & Salvin, 1877
Syn.: arruanus Oberthür, 1879
Syn.: priamus Ribbe, 1886
Syn.: eumaeus Rippon, 1892
Syn.: poseidon Rothschild, 1895
Syn.: aruana Rippon, 1898
Syn.: arruanus Rippon, 1908
Syn.: arruanus Jordan, 1908
Syn.: hecuba D'Abrera, 1971
Distribution: Aru Isls; Kepulauan Aru (='Great Aru') incl Koba and
Trangan), Penambulai Is., Baun Is. (= 'Little Aru'), ?Workai (='Gomogomo') Is.
Etymology: Named after its type locality, Aru Is.
Described forms:
mf. eumaeus Rippon, 1892
mf. chrysophila Rothschild, 1908
mf. viridocellularis Haugum & Low,1981
mf. caramalei Parrott & Deslisle, 1989
  mf. viridodentis Deslisle & Sclavo, 2008

O.priamus pronomus

Auctor: Gray, 1852
Distribution: Australia;, QLD;, Thursday Is., northern Cape York Peninsula.
Etymology: Haugum & Low (1979) suggested the name was derived from latin
pronominare. Another possibility is that the name originates
from Greek; pronomos = grazing forward, or possibly (also from 
Greek) pro = before/in front of, nemos = forest.
Notes: Haugum & Low (1979) regarded pronomus to be a f.loc. of
O.priamus poseidon.
Described forms:

O.priamus macalpinei

Auctor: Moulds, 1974
Distribution: Australia;, QLD;, Iron Range, Claude River - Coen - Stewart River.
Etymology: Named in honour of Dr. D. K. McAlpine, curator at the 
Australian Museum.
Notes: Haugum & Low (1979) regarded macalpinei to be a synonym
of pronomus, which they itself was regarded to be a f.loc. of
O.priamus poseidon.
Described forms:

O.priamus euphorion

Auctor: Gray, 1852
Syn.: cassandra (female) Scott (W.Macleay Jr. i.l.), 1866
Syn.: pronomus Semper, 1878
Distribution: Australia;, QLD;, Mt.Webb - Mackay.
Etymology: Euphorion was the son of Achilles and Helena.
Notes: Some authors regard O.priamus euphorion to be a distinct species.
  Selective breeding of euphorion has created some very spectacular forms, some
  of which can be seen here.
Described forms:
mf. kogane Okano, 1980
mf. beuriei Parrott & Deslisle, 1989
mf. supermultispot von Knötgen, 1997
mf. weylandi Deslisle, 2004
mf. detonnancouri Deslisle & Sclavo, 2008
ff. aureomaculata Sumiyoshi, 1989
  ff. atsukoae Okano K., 1980
  ff. weylandi Deslisle, 2004

O.priamus richmondia

Auctor: Gray, 1852
Syn.: richmondii Schneider, 1895
Syn.: richmondius Rothschild, 1895
Syn.: richmundia Borch & Schmid, 1973
Distribution: Australia; Maryborough, QLD - Clarence River, NSW.
Etymology: Named after its type locality, Richmond River, NSW.
Notes: Many authors regard O.priamus richmondia to be a distinct species.
Described forms:
mf. reducta Haugum & Low, 1979

O.priamus gebeensis

Auctor: Parrott, 1985
Distribution: Gebé Is.
Etymology: Named after its type locality, Gebé Island.
Described forms:

O.priamus teucrus

Auctor: Joicey & Talbot, 1916
Distribution: Biak Is., Supiori Is.
Etymology: In Greek mythology Teukros was the founder of Salamis.
Notes: Haugum & Low (1979) regarded teucrus to be a f.loc.
of O.priamus poseidon.
Described forms:
mf. unipunctata Dufrane, 1946
mf. barbarossa Attal, 1988
  mf. aurora Ohya, 1999

O.priamus kasandra

Auctor: Kobayashi, 1994
Distribution: Yapen Is.
Notes: Attal (1989), who examined 24 pairs from Yapen Is., found
it indistinguishable from O. priamus poseidon.
Described forms:

O.priamus poseidon

Auctor: Doubleday, 1847
Syn.: priamus Quoy & Gaimard, 1815
Syn.: archideus Gray, 1852
Syn.: ? pronomus Gray, 1852 (see notes under O.priamus pronomus)
Syn.: triton Felder, 1864
Syn.: pegasus Felder, 1864
Syn.: cronius Felder, 1864
Syn.: pegasus Kirsch, 1864
Syn.: pegasus Staudinger & Schatz, 1888
Syn.: pegasus Grose-Smith, 1894
Syn.: valentina Vuillot, 1892
Syn.: archideus Rippon, 1902
Syn.: eudamides Fruhstorfer, 1913
Syn.: eurysaches Fruhstorfer, 1913
Syn.: ornata Niepelt, 1934
Syn.: ? demophanes Fruhstorfer, 1913 (see notes under O.priamus demphanes)
Syn.: ? teucrus Joicey & Talbot, 1916 (see notes under O.priamus teucrus
Syn.: ? macalpinei Moulds, 1974 (see notes under O.priamus macalpinei)
Syn.: ? aureus Parrott, 1987 (see notes under O.priamus aureus)
Syn.: ? sterrensis Parrott, 1987 (see notes under O.priamus sterrensis)
Distribution: New Guinea and offshore islands.
Etymology: In Greek mythology Poseidon was god of seas and waters.
The photo of a striking female in collecting Ian Davies, Barongarook, Vic., Australia
shows a female with green colouration in the radial band, in the cell and the outer margin of the forewing, as well as in the submarginal area of the hindwing. Mr Davies suggests the specimen is tending towards a gynandromorph. Never having seen such a form of O.priamus before, this author cannot disagree with this suggestion. Please see the enlarged photo for details of the green colouration.
It should be noted, however, that after publishing this photo, several collectors have notified me of similar specimens, one of which is in the collection of William Garthe, Peru, IL, USA.
Described forms:
mf. poseidon Doubleday, 1846
mf. triton Felder, 1864
mf. cronius Felder, 1864
mf. pegasus Felder, 1864
mf. virido-cellularis Przegandza, 1912 (nom. coll.)
mf. transiens Przegandza, 1912
mf. nigropunctata Dufrane, 1930
mf. aureopunctata Dufrane, 1930
mf. obscura Niepelt, 1934
mf. flammeus Parrott & Deslisle, 1989
mf. radians Parrott & Deslisle, 1989
mf. fuscuocellus Parrott & Deslisle, 1989
mf. ketchupabdominalis Attal, 1989
mf. melaina Schäffler, 2001
mf. muckai Schäffler, 2001
ff. poseidon Doubleday, 1846
ff. archideus Gray, 1853
ff. nivalis Fruhstorfer, 1913
ff. lavata Fruhstorfer, 1913
ff. aurago Fruhstorfer, 1913
ff. brunneus Rothschild, 1895
ff. boreas Fruhstorfer, 1901
ff. kirschi Oberthür, 1888
ff. decora Niepelt, 1934
ff. arlequina Roussaeu-Decelle, 1935
ff. paradoxa Dufrane, 1930
ff. albiplaga Röber, 1937
ff. priameis Röber, 1937
ff. lemoulti Dufrane, 1946
ff. akakeoides Haugum & Low, 1981
ff. pseudotroides Haugum & Low, 1981
ff. radialei Parrott & Deslisle, 1989
ff. multicolorei Parrott & Deslisle, 1989
ff. michikoae Sumiyoshi, 1989
ff. titanoides Sumiyoshi, 1989
ff. latimarginata Sumiyoshi, 1989
  ff. summanus Ohya, 1997
  ff. beigeli Schäffler, 2001

O.priamus garainaensis

Auctor: Deslisle, 2004
Described forms:
ff. viridocoronae Deslisle & Sclavo, 2008

O.priamus aureus

Auctor: Parrott, 1987
Distribution: Arfak Mountains, Irian Jaya, New Guinea.
Etymology: Aureus = golden, colour of gold.
Notes: Parrott described this subspecies basically on phenotypic
differentationfrom O.priamus poseidon. O.priamus poseidon
is, however, a very variable subspecies. Significant 
differentations exist throughout its huge range. Future 
investigations should be carried out to determine if intermediate 
populations occur between O.priamus aureus and O.priamus
poseidon. Ohya (1995, 1997) regarded O.priamus aureus to be a synonym of O.priamus poseidon.
Described forms:

O.priamus sterrensis

Auctor: Parrott, 1990
Distribution: Mt.Sterren, Irian Jaya, central New Guinea.
Etymology: Named after its type locality, Mt.Sterren.
Notes: Parrott described this subspecies basically on phenotypic
differentationfrom O.priamus poseidon. O.priamus poseidon
is, however, a very variable subspecies. Significant differentations
exist throughout its huge range. Future investigations should be carried
out to determine if intermediate populations occur between
O.priamus sterrensis and O.priamus poseidon. Ohya (1995, 1997)
regarded O.priamus sterrensis to be a synonym of O.priamus poseidon ff. akakeoides.
Also Matsuka (2001) treated sterrensis as a synonym of O.priamus poseidon.
Described forms:

O.priamus demophanes

Auctor: Fruhstorfer, 1913
Distribution: D'Entrecasteaux and Trobriand (=Kiriwina) Isls.
Etymology: demo = built of, phanae = brightness.
Notes: Haugum & Low (1979) regarded demophanes to be a f.loc. of
O.priamus poseidon
Kobayashi (1987) described O.priamus demophanes from "Torobriand"
(presumably a misprint of Trobriand Isls.) under the name "O.priamus
demophanes f.loc. medeia."
Described forms:
ff. brunneus Rothschild, 1895

O.priamus boisduvali

Auctor: Montrouzier, 1856
Syn.: oceanus Felder, 1864
Syn.: oceana Salvin & Godman, 1877
Distribution: Woodlark Is.
Etymology: Named in honour of Dr. Jean B. A. Boisduval,
author of  "Voyage of the Astrolabe" (a French
vessel used for  scientific exploration in first part of the 19th century).
Described forms:

O.priamus admiralitatis

Auctor: Rothschild, 1915
Distribution: Admiralty Isls.
Etymology: Named after its type locality, Admiralty Islands.
Described forms:
mf. moinieri Blandin, 1969

O.priamus bornemanni

Auctor: Pagenstecher, 1894
Syn.: arruana Godman & Salvin, 1896
Syn.: d'Urvilliana Ribbe, 1896
Syn.: bornemanni Pagenstecher, 1898 (as O.bornemanni)
Distribution: New Britain, incl. Witu Is. (see notes under O. priamus wituensis), Matupi Is. and ?Watom Is.
Etymology: Named after Mr G. Bornemann, a collector in Magdeburg.
Described forms:
mf. viridilineata Haugum & Low, 1979

O.priamus wituensis

Auctor: d'Abrera, 2003
Distribution: Witu Is., Bismarck Archipelago
Etymology: Named after its type locality, Witu Is.
Notes: According to Haugum & Low (1979) the population of O.priamus from Witu Is. belongs to ssp bornemanni.
Described forms:

O.priamus miokensis

Auctor: Ribbe, 1898
Syn.: durvilliana Mathew, 1888
Syn.: urvillianus var. Pagenstecher, 1894
Syn.: urvillianus var. Pagenstecher, 1899
Distribution: Mioko Is., Duke of York group
Etymology: Named after its type locality, Mioko Is., Neu Lauenburg.
Described forms:
mf. icarus Schäffler, 2001

O.priamus caelestis

Auctor: Rothschild, 1898
Syn.: coelestis Anonymous, 1917 (in Proceedings, Trans. ent.   Soc. Lond.)
Distribution: Louisiade group and Rossel Is.
Etymology: Caelestis = heavenly.
Described forms:
mf. flavopunctata Rousseau-Decelle, 1935

O.priamus urvillianus

Auctor: Guérin-Mené, 1838
Syn.: urvillianus Guérin, 1830 (nom. nud.)
Syn.: urvilliana Boisduval, 1832
Syn.: urvilliana Boisduval, 1836 (as O.priamus var.)
Syn.: urviliana Salvin & Godman, 1877
Syn.: duvilliana Woodford, 1888
Syn.: d'Urvilliana Ribbe, 1896
Syn.: urvilleanus Rothschild, 1895
Syn.: urvilleania Stephan, 1909
Syn.: urvilleana Walter, 1912
Syn.: burkei Clark, 1944
Distribution: New Ireland; Lavongai (New Hanover Is.) - South
Solomon Isls.; Ulawa.
Etymology: Named after its first collector, J.S.C. Dumont d'Urville.
Described forms:
mf. flavomaculata Ribbe, 1898
mf. radiata Roussaeu-Decelle, 1935
mf. viridescens Kaiser, 1917
ff. fuscapallida Roussaeu-Decelle, 1935

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