Borneo birdwing (Troides andromache)

The upperside of a mounted specimen of a male Borneo birdwing
Loading more images and videos...

Borneo birdwing fact file

Borneo birdwing description

GenusTroides (1)

Birdwings are large, tropical butterflies of the Papilionidae family and include arguably some of the most spectacular, butterfly species in the world. Troides birdwings are known for the striking contrast of their black and yellow colouration. The male Borneo birdwing (Troides andromache), has yellow hindwings with black borders and veins. The forewings are primarily black, but on the underside, show whitish streaks towards the outer edge of the wing. The female can be distinguished from the male by its paler-coloured forewings, which are primarily whitish to tan-brown, and its different pattern of black and yellow on the hindwings (3).


Borneo birdwing biology

Little has been documented on the biology of this species, but there are certain biological characteristics known to be common to most, if not all, birdwing butterflies. After mating, females immediately seek out appropriate host plants on which to lay their eggs, usually on plants of the genera Aristolochia and Pararistolochia (both in the family Aristolochiaceae), on which the caterpillar larvae subsequently feed (6). Once the caterpillars hatch, they voraciously munch through the leaves around them. Feeding upon these plants also serves as a defensive mechanism, as they contain certain chemicals that make the caterpillars toxic and therefore unpalatable to most predators (7). The caterpillars eventually pupate and undergo metamorphosis into adult butterflies, and may even manage to maintain toxic chemicals in their tissues into adulthood (7). Troides birdwings typically pupate on the twigs or stems of plants close to the larval food plant or on the food plant itself (3). Adults of this species feed on nectar of Mussaenda blossom and other flowers (5).


Borneo birdwing range

The Borneo birdwing is endemic to the island of Borneo (3). There are two subspecies of this birdwing: Troides andromache andromache occurs in Sabah, and Troides andromache marapokensis occurs in northern Sarawak. The Indonesian part of the island (Kalimantan) is not well researched, and it is not known whether the species also occurs there (4).


Borneo birdwing habitat

Native to montane forests, the Borneo birdwing is recorded from around 1,000 to 2,900 metres above sea level (5).


Borneo birdwing status

The Borneo birdwing is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1), and listed on Appendix II of CITES (2).

IUCN Red List species status – Near Threatened


Borneo birdwing threats

The principal threats to Troides butterflies are deforestation and pressure from an increasing human population (4) (9). The Borneo birdwing population at Mount Kinabalu is under considerable threat from human ‘development’, and this beautiful butterfly has now sadly disappeared from many of its former localities around Mount Kinabalu, Sabah (4) (6). Little current data seems to be available on the status of this butterfly elsewhere (4).


Borneo birdwing conservation

The endemic Borneo birdwing is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning that any international trade in this species should be carefully monitored (2). Additional protection is afforded to Troides andromache in the Kinabalu area, where it occurs within the boundaries of National Park lands around Mount Kinabalu (4) (8).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.


Authenticated (05/08/08) by John Tennent, Scientific Associate, Department of Entomology, The Natural History Museum, London.



A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
Of the stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
An abrupt physical change from the larval to the adult form.
Montane forest
Forest occurring in the montane zone, a zone of cool upland slopes below the tree line dominated by large evergreen trees.
The process of forming a pupa, the stage in an insect’s development when huge changes occur that reorganise the larval form into the adult form. In butterflies the pupa is also called a chrysalis.
A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.


  1. IUCN Red List (May, 2011)
  2. CITES (July, 2006)
  3. Haugum, J. and Low, A.M. (1985) A Monograph of the Birdwing Butterflies. Scandinavian Science Press, Klampenborg.
  4. Tennent, J. (2008) Pers. comm.
  5. The World of Birdwing Butterflies (July, 2006)
  6. Akinori Nakanishi, M., Jalil, F. and Wahid, N. (2004) Catalogue of Swallowtail Butterflies (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae) at BORNEENSIS. Institute for Tropical Biology & Conservation (ITBC), Sabah, Malaysia. Available at:
  7. Tree of Life Web Project (July, 2006)
  8. Yen, S.H. and Yang, P.S. (2001) Illustrated Identification Guide to Insects Protected by the CITES and Wildlife Conservation Law of Taiwan. R.O.C. Council of Agriculture, Taiwan.
  9. Troides andromache (July, 2006)

Image credit

The upperside of a mounted specimen of a male Borneo birdwing  
The upperside of a mounted specimen of a male Borneo birdwing

© The Natural History Museum, London

The Natural History Museum Picture Library
Cromwell Road
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 207 942 5323
Fax: +44 (0) 207 942 5443


Link to this photo

Arkive species - Borneo birdwing (Troides andromache) Embed this Arkive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to Arkive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about



MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite Arkive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!


Back To Top