Troides helena

Last updated

Common birdwing
Troides helena - upperside.JPG
Male, dorsal side, at Manado, North Sulawesi
CITES Appendix II (CITES) [1]
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Papilionidae
Genus: Troides
T. helena
Binomial name
Troides helena

17, see text

Troides helena, the common birdwing, is a butterfly belonging to the family Papilionidae. It is often found in the wildlife trade due to its popularity with butterfly collectors. The butterfly has seventeen subspecies. [2]


Troides helena cerberus. Video clip


The description of the commonest subspecies of the butterfly in India, T. h. cerberus Felder, is given below: [3]


Upperside of forewings are rich velvety black with adnervular pale streaks on either side of the veins beyond the cell. The cilia is short, black, alternated with pale buffy white in the middle of the interspaces.

Hindwing: the abdominal fold, the apical half obliquely of interspace 1, the termen broadly, the base of the cell and the costal area up to and including the basal half of interspace 7 velvety black, the rest of the wing rich silky yellow; the veins prominently but narrowly black; the inner margin of the terminal black border produced inwards into prominent cone-shaped markings in the interspaces.

All specimens have one or more postdiscal black spots in the interspaces, but never a complete series; in interspace 2 and sometimes also in interspace 3 these spots coalesce with the cone-shaped projections of the terminal black border. Underneath the abdominal fold is a dense mass of buffy-white scented cottony pubescence. Underside similar, the adnervular pale streaks on the forewing broader and more prominent.

Hindwing: dorsal margin broadly black, with an edging of long soft black hairs; interspace 1 with a large oval postdiscal and a terminal black spot; interspace 2 with the postdiscal black spot generally separate from the cone-shaped projection of the black terminal border; the apical and lateral margins of interspaces 2-6 pale yellow irrorated (sprinkled) with black scales.

Antenna, head and thorax black, the collar narrowly crimson; abdomen yellow, shaded above with black; beneath: the thorax with a large lateral patch of crimson, the anal segment prominently buff coloured.


Upper and under sides of the female is similar to those in the male, but with the following differences:


Flight and nectaring Flight and Nectaring of specimens of Troides helena (Linnaeus, 1758) - Common Birdwing WLB DSC 0132.jpg
Flight and nectaring
Common birdwing (sonaal), Kolkata, West Bengal, India Common Birdwing ( sonaal)01.JPG
Common birdwing (সোনাল), Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Common birdwing (sonaal), Kolkata, West Bengal, India Common Birdwing ( sonaal)03.JPG
Common birdwing (সোনাল), Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Illustration of males and females PompeopteraCerberusRippon.jpg
Illustration of males and females

Distribution and status

T. helena is widely distributed and locally common in forest areas. Globally it is found in Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, peninsular and eastern Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, southern China including Hainan, and Hong Kong. [2] In the Indonesian archipelago, T. helena is found in Sumatra, Nias, Enggano, Java, Bawean, Kangean Islands, Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Great Natuna (Bunguran), Sulawesi, Butung, Tukangbesi, Kalimantan, and Brunei. [2]

In Hong Kong, T. helena is at the northern limit of its range. It is not common in Hong Kong but it is observed that there are stable populations in three sites (the surrounding area of Po Lo Che (Sai Kung District), Shan Liu Road (Tai Po) and Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden in the New Territories). It is also found on Lantau Island and Hong Kong Island. [4]

In India the T. helena is found in the north-east of the country including Sikkim, West Bengal, and Orissa. It is also found in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. [2] The subspecies found in India are: [5]

The common birdwing, though widespread and common in many of the localities in which it occurs, was classified as vulnerable in 1985. [2]


Helen in Greek mythology was the daughter of Zeus. [6] Cerberus or Kerberos, in Greek and Roman mythology, is a multi-headed hound which guards the gates of the Underworld.


This species is protected under Wild Animals Protection Ordinance Cap 170 in Hong Kong. [4] The common birdwing is protected in Indonesia and may also require protection in peninsular Malaya also. It is listed in Appendix II of Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) as are all other Troides species. [2]

Food plants

Illustration including larva and pupa of Troides helena Zoological Illustrations Volume III Series 2 098.jpg
Illustration including larva and pupa of Troides helena

The larval food plants include Aristolochia indica , Aristolochia tagala and Thottea siliquosa . A food plant for the species, Aristolochia tagala has been planted in the Kadoorie Farm and Shan Liu Road in Hong Kong to sustain a healthy population of the species. [4]

Troides helena is a member of the helena species group. The members of this clade are:

See also

Cited references

  1. "Appendices | CITES". Retrieved 2022-01-14.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Collins, N. Mark; Morris, Michael G. (1985). Threatened Swallowtail Butterflies of the World: The IUCN Red Data Book. Gland & Cambridge: IUCN. ISBN   978-2-88032-603-6 via Biodiversity Heritage Library.
  3. Bingham, C.T. (1907). The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Vol. II (1st ed.). London: Taylor and Francis, Ltd.
  4. 1 2 3 Hong Kong Lepidopterists' Society webpage on Common Birdwing. Accessed 12 October 2006. Archived 27 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  5. Cotton, Adam; Fric, Zdenek Faltynek; Smith, Colin & Smetacek, Peter (March 2013). "Subspecies catalogue of the butterflies of India (Papilionidae): A Synopsis". Bionotes. 15 (1): 5–8.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  6. Greek Mythology

Related Research Articles

Birdwing Butterflies in swallowtail family

Birdwings are butterflies in the swallowtail family, that belong to the genera Trogonoptera, Troides, and Ornithoptera. Most recent authorities recognise 36 species, however, this is debated, and some authorities include additional genera. Birdwings are named for their exceptional size, angular wings, and birdlike flight. They are found across tropical Asia, mainland and archipelagic Southeast Asia, and Australasia.

<i>Troides minos</i> Species of butterfly

Troides minos, the southern birdwing, also called Sahyadri birdwing, is a large and striking swallowtail butterfly endemic to south India. With a wingspan of 140–190 mm, it is the second largest butterfly of India. It is listed as Least Concern in the IUCN Red List.

<i>Papilio paris</i> Species of butterfly

Papilio paris, the Paris peacock, is a species of swallowtail butterfly found in the Indian subcontinent and southeast Asia.

<i>Troides aeacus</i> Species of butterfly

Troides aeacus, the golden birdwing, is a large tropical butterfly belonging to the swallowtail family, Papilionidae.

<i>Papilio epycides</i> Species of butterfly

Papilio (Chilasa) epycides, the lesser mime, is a swallowtail butterfly found in India and parts of South-East Asia. The butterfly belongs to the mime (Chilasa) subgenus or the black-bodied swallowtails. It is a mimic of a common Indian Danainae, the glassy tiger butterfly.

<i>Graphium eurypylus</i> Species of butterfly

Graphium eurypylus, the great jay or pale green triangle, is a species of tropical butterfly belonging to the family Papilionidae.

<i>Aristolochia tagala</i> Species of vine

Aristolochia tagala is commonly known as Indian birthwort and locally as Dutchman's pipe.

<i>Troides vandepolli</i> Species of butterfly

Troides vandepolli, the van de Poll's birdwing, is a montane birdwing butterfly occurring on Java and Sumatra. It is endemic for Indonesia and is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

<i>Troides magellanus</i> Species of butterfly

Troides magellanus, the Magellan birdwing, is a large and striking birdwing butterfly found in the Philippines and on Taiwan's Orchid Island.

<i>Troides haliphron</i> Species of butterfly

Troides haliphron, the haliphron birdwing, is a birdwing butterfly confined to Sulawesi and the lesser Sunda Islands.

<i>Troides miranda</i> Species of butterfly

Troides miranda, the Miranda birdwing, is a birdwing butterfly that inhabits Borneo and Sumatra.

<i>Troides darsius</i> Species of butterfly

Troides darsius, the Sri Lankan birdwing, is a species of birdwing butterfly found in Sri Lanka. It is the largest butterfly on the island and is also the national butterfly of Sri Lanka.

<i>Troides andromache</i> Species of butterfly

Troides andromache, the Borneo birdwing , is a species of butterfly in the family Papilionidae. It is found only in Borneo.

<i>Troides riedeli</i> Species of butterfly

Troides riedeli, or Riedel's birdwing, is a birdwing butterfly endemic to the Tanimbar Islands, part of the Maluku Islands archipelago in Indonesia.

<i>Troides criton</i> Species of butterfly

Troides criton, the Criton birdwing, is a birdwing butterfly found on the islands of Morotai, Halmahera, Bali, Bacan, Ternate and Obi in Indonesia.

<i>Troides cuneifera</i> Species of butterfly

Troides cuneifera, the Mountain Birdwing, is a large butterfly belonging to the swallowtail family, Papilionidae, found in the Thai-Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java and Borneo.

<i>Troides oblongomaculatus</i> Species of butterfly

Troides oblongomaculatus, the oblong-spotted birdwing, is a birdwing butterfly found in Indonesia and New Guinea.

<i>Troides amphrysus</i> Species of butterfly

Troides amphrysus, the Malay birdwing, is a birdwing butterfly in the genus Troides in the family Papilionidae.

<i>Troides staudingeri</i> Species of butterfly

Troides staudingeri is a birdwing butterfly in the genus Troides in the family Papilionidae. It is known from Leti Island, Moa Island, Kisar Island, Babar Island and Wetar Island.