The biggest butterfly in the world


The right to possess the title of “The Biggest Butterfly in the World” is claimed by six representatives of the order Lepidoptera. Each species leads in size or span, or length, or wing area, or prevails in size among night and day butterflies.

To determine the magnitude of the wingspan, it turns out, there are special standards set by entomologists for specimens placed in the collection. The wings of the butterflies must be straightened in a certain way, so that a right angle is formed between the body of the insect and the lower edge of the front wings. Measurements with violation of this rule led to misunderstandings regarding the wingspan, as the indicators increased by 0.5-1.8 cm.

Scoop agrippa

Thysania agrippina is a moth, the largest in the world, if we consider its wingspan. According to different sources, it reaches 25-31 cm. A collection from Costa Rica is known, which had a span of 28 cm. The width of the scope of another Brazilian specimen caught in 1934 was 30.8 cm. But it is not known case how true measurements were taken.

The color of the wings of the insect is rather inconspicuous: on a light gray, almost white background, symmetrical strokes alternate with wavy lines of brown and brown. The males of the agrippa are painted more attractively compared with the females. However, this can only be seen when the butterfly wings are folded. On their lower side, closer to the abdomen, the color is brown, turning into a blue-violet iridescent tone with bright white spots.

The distribution area of ​​the world's largest butterfly is South, Central America, and the insect is also found in Mexico. The characteristic terrain where the species mostly inhabits is the selva of South America. The way of life of insects is poorly understood, presumably these butterflies, like caterpillars, feed on the leaves of one of the plants of the legume family. Life expectancy and breeding patterns are unknown.

Kostsinocera (peacock) oat-flakes

If you ask entomologists about the world's largest butterfly in terms of the total size of its wings, they deservedly call Coscinocera hercules. It is ahead of all other Lepidoptera in this indicator. Their range in females does not exceed 27 cm. However, the area can reach 263 cm 2. Males are a little smaller, painted much darker than females, differ in long tail-shaped corners of the hind wings, sometimes stretched by 13 cm. Each of the four wings of individuals of both sexes has a transparent eye-spot, which in females are larger and more noticeable.

Indeed, the wings of this nocturnal species are the most massive and large, therefore, if you do not take into account the scope, the Hercules can be considered the largest butterfly of the planet if you ignore the scope. Its habitat is the tropical forests of Papua New Guinea and one of the northern regions of Australia.

Queen Alexandra's waterfowl female

The butterfly with the world's largest wingspan among diurnal species is Ornithoptera alexandrae. A rather interesting story is connected with the discovery of this species in 1906 by the zoologist Albert Mick. On the islands of the Pacific Ocean near Australia, he compiled a collection of insects for an avid butterfly collector of the Rothschild banker. It was he who in 1907 gave the world's largest butterfly a name associated with the name of Queen Alexandra - the wife of the English king Edward VII. As this species flutters in the crowns of tall trees, the first specimen, which turned out to be a female, was shot down with a gun. Small bright birds, which were then made stuffed, were shot down with cartridges, charged with the smallest shot or mustard seeds, so as not to damage the feathering of the birds. The same charges were used for large flying insects.

The look of the world's largest butterfly (among diurnal species) depends on the sex of the individual. Males are smaller, with more graceful and brighter colored wings, the span of which does not exceed 20 cm. In females, the coloring is velvety brown with a beige-white pattern. Their wingspan sometimes reaches 27 cm, and the belly 8 cm long weighs about 12 grams. Ornithoptera alexandrae are endemics that live only in tropical rain forests of one of the regions of the mountains of New Guinea. After the eruption of a volcano in the middle of the last century destroyed a large part of the population of these lepidoptera, they are considered to be a rare species.

Peacock Atlas

The most common of the largest species of butterflies is Attacus atlas. The insect is not much inferior to the size and area of ​​the wings of the hercules kostsinocere. You can verify this by looking at a specimen of 1922 from the Australian Museum: the width of the wingspan of this specimen is 24 cm. Higher rates are often found due to the incorrect position of the wings when measuring an insect. Therefore, the peacock-eye atlas is not considered the largest butterfly in the world.

Photos of this species are made by tourists in travels in the southeast countries of Asia with ease and ease. And this is not surprising, because the habitat of the peacock-eye atlas is very wide in this part of the world, and the list of food plants of caterpillars is very diverse. Large fat caterpillars accumulate nutrients, due to which adult butterflies live, since they themselves do not possess a developed oral apparatus and do not feed during their short life.

In India, the species is bred artificially. From the threads of huge (palm-sized) cocoons on a non-industrial scale, high-strength wool-like fargovy silk of natural beige-brown shades is produced. Cocoons are often replaced by wallets in Taiwan.

Sailboat antimachine

Papilio antimachus is not considered the largest butterfly in the world, but is the largest diurnal species in Africa. In this species, the males are larger, the wingspan of which sometimes reaches 25 cm. The average size is 18-23 cm. Such a significant distance between the front wings is created due to their highly elongated peaks. Antimah sailboats are creatures of bright colors with brownish, ocher, orange and red tonal modulations of a general background and a dark, almost black pattern.

The first copy (male), delivered to England and received a scientific description, dates from 1775, he was caught in Sierra Leone. Only a hundred years later, a second specimen, caught in Europe, was produced. The first female caught Papilio antimachus in 1882 was brought to the members of the expedition of Lord-banker Rothschild by the natives.

The habitat of the butterfly on the African continent is quite wide, it can be found in tropical rain forests. However, the view refers to the few. Males are often large colonies accumulate on the flowers of plants. Females prefer dense crowns of trees, almost never descend and do not fly out into open spaces.

Madagascar comet

Of all the big butterflies in the world, this nocturnal insect is considered the most beautiful and longest. Even in Madagascar comet females, larger and more massive than males, their wingspan does not exceed 18 cm. But their bottom corners of the hind wings are excessively extended. In males, the hypertrophied narrow “tails” reach 16 cm, which in total with the rest of the wing is more than 30 cm. In females, the “tails” are twice as wide and shorter (8 cm).

Madagascar comet attractive makes not only an unusual train. Her bright yellow color is decorated with “eyes”, one on each wing, of a rich brown color with a black dot “pupil” in the center. The coloring is complemented by wavy brown-red lines, brown-black spots at the tips of the wings and a black border on the lower wings.

Argema mittrei is an endemic living only in tropical rain forests of Madagascar. In the country for sale to collectors, the species is bred in captivity. In 1995, a denomination of 500 ariaries was issued in Madagascar, where, among other endemics of the country, there was also a Madagascar comet.

Maak's Sailboat

Not the biggest butterfly of the planet Papilio maackii is the largest representative of the squad found on the territory of Russia. It lives on about. Kunashir, in Primorye, Amur, South Sakhalin. The wingspan of females - 13.5 cm, males - 12.5 cm.

Maak's sailboats have a very beautiful rainbow color. Males differ in tints from malachite green to cobalt blue. In females, the color varies depending on the subspecies.

Tizania Agrippina

The largest butterfly in the world lives mainly in Mexico, South and Central America. There they emigrated from more southern areas. And the individual eats leaves of cassia - a shrub that grows to a meter height. Tizania Agrippina is difficult to see during the day, she is exclusively nocturnal. Moreover, if such a record-holder butterfly came to the attention of a person, it would be better to admire it from afar. And not because it is poisonous or can cause some harm, the Scoop is on the verge of extinction.

Externally, Tizania is very similar to a huge beautiful moth. Both pairs of butterfly wings are wavy around the edges. The upper part of the wings and body can be white with multiple wavy brown, gray and brown stripes. Different individuals of this species may have a different color. In some, the brown pattern is more pronounced than in others and dominates the overall white background. The lower body of the butterfly is usually dark brown with whitish spots, but can also be dull or give off a metallic sheen.

Peacock-eye Atlas

Another member of the ranking of the biggest butterflies in the world. And again with a rather original name. Peacock-eye Atlas can reach a size of 26 centimeters. The largest individual that I had found and measured lived on the Indonesian island of Java. The size of the butterfly was 26.2 centimeters. Well, in general, this species flies in China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Pakistan, Malaysia, the Philippines and New Guinea.

It should be noted that the female Peacock-eyed Atlas is much larger than the males. Individual feed on leaves of shrubs and trees. And as previous record holders are nocturnal. They are especially active in twilight time, in the early morning and in the late evening, for which they received the nickname “Prince of Darkness”. And it is best to watch the largest butterflies in the world, not personally, but in the photo. However, residents of Russia can look at the beauty without leaving the country - the Atlas bred Peacock eye in the Moscow Zoo.

By the way, the view of the Peacock-eye Atlas itself is quite interesting. During mating periods, the male can detect the female at a distance of several kilometers. And the pairing itself lasts for several hours without a break. Immediately after release from the pupa, both the male and the female are ready to breed. Peacock-eyes are unusually patient, females can wait for their male for several hours, while still sitting in one place, while the male will look for her at this time. And it is this process, that is, reproduction, that is the meaning of the life of the largest butterfly in the world. By the way, the life of the female is rather short. She dies immediately after laying off the offspring.

By the way, in Taiwan Peacock eyes without knowing it benefit the person. Cocoons from under the caterpillar people use as wallets.

The largest butterfly in the world is striking in its beauty. The winged individual can be painted in bright red, yellow, pink and brown shades. And on each wing of the butterfly there are large, triangular, transparent “windows”. The front wings have a rather fancy curved edge, which in shape and color resembles a snake's head. This is exactly where Peacock Eyes intimidates insectivorous animals. By the way, in Hong Kong, for this unusual feature, Atlas was called “The Moth - the head of a snake”.

In addition to the size of Peacock Eyes, there is another feature - her mouth is completely atrophied. Throughout its short life (only 1-2 weeks), the butterfly does not feed at all, but processes all the fat reserves that it has accumulated in the caterpillar state.

By the way, the caterpillars of the giant butterfly are also huge - they grow up to 10 centimeters in length. And their appearance is original - they are light green in color with large blue appendages all over their body, which are covered with a wax white bloom (similar to powder).

The peacock-eye Atlas is not only beautiful, but also a useful butterfly. In India, it is bred on special farms where they get fagar silk. It differs from the silkworm product in wool, strength and durability.

Butterfly with huge wings

In the tropical forests of Asia lives Saturnia-Atakus, which is considered by many collectors to be the world's largest butterfly. In this species, indeed, huge wings, however, it is at the expense of the latter that there are many disputes. The fact is that the researchers constantly added another centimeter to them, their dimensions eventually came out hyperbolic, to an incredible 30-32 cm in the wingspan!

How to measure the size of butterflies?

Why did it happen so? On the one hand, someone wanted to impress the reader with butterflies, adding a little “size”, and on the other hand, these data appeared as a result of the way the butterfly wings were spread for the collection. The wingspan of the “dried” butterflies from the collections depends on the angle of their spreading. - the larger the negative angle between the edge of the front wing and the rear wings, the greater will be the wingspan of the specimen (of course, not infinite). This trick is often used by enterprising collectors to profitably resell the butterflies they have, adding wingspan ...

How to actually set the size of the wings of a butterfly? The most convincing and reliable method is a trigonometric calculation following the example of the height of a triangle. So, the length of the line from the base of the front edge to the top of the front wing is multiplied by the sine of the angle that forms this line with the axis of the butterfly body, and we get the length of one wing. Having doubled it - we will receive length of scope of wings of a butterfly! According to this method, the largest of the fixed, wingspan at Saturnia-Atakus is 26.2 cm.

On the opposite side of the planet - in the tropical forests of the Amazonia - Saturnia is also common and they also amaze with their size, although they are still inferior to South-Asian. For example, in Saturnia-Arsenula and Saturnia-Kayo in the wingspan reach 19 cm!

The largest butterfly of the Western Hemisphere

The real giant and the biggest butterfly of the Western Hemisphere is Tizania Agrippina. This species is considered by many to be the largest in the world, although the wingspan is only 25-26 cm, which is comparable to the Saturnia-Atakus, but the area of ​​the wings of the latter is definitely larger. In contrast to her, Tizania Agrippina has a very inconspicuous and speckled camouflage color - gray with thick lace of black stripes.

The biggest butterfly in the world

The world's largest butterfly is officially considered the sailboat - Queen Alexandra's Bird from the forests of Papua New Guinea, with this species the wingspan is 28-29 cm! It belongs to a very rare species, because it is endemic to New Guinea, and is now on the verge of extinction. International conventions prohibit not only trade, but also the capture of these rare insects. Females of the Parusnik-Ptitsekrylov Alexandra significantly exceed males in size - if the wingspan of the first are up to 28 cm, then in the second - only 19 cm.

They also differ in color. The females have colored wings with a coffee tint and numerous cream and light coffee radial stripes. The color of the males is much brighter and more attractive - with a predominance of metallic green, sometimes blue and yellow, with black longitudinal stripes.

Disputes go around the maximum size of the wingspan of butterflies, and if we take the averaged data, then each of the species shows much more modest indicators than collectors would like.


The first place is occupied by the Agrippina scoop (it has another name, Agrippina's tizania. This moth is rightly considered the largest, since its wingspan reaches 30 cm. The Agrippina scoop has white and gray wings on which the dark pattern is located. Shades of the wings are Different individuals may differ. The largest butterfly lives in Central and South America. The typical tropical habitat of Agrippina scoops is considered to be the tropical rainforests of Brazil, Peru, Venezuela and other Latin American countries.


The second place of the “Biggest Butterfly” rating with a wingspan of 27 cm is occupied by the bird-wing of Queen Alexandra. This diurnal butterfly lives in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. The length of the abdomen of this large and beautiful butterfly can reach 8 cm, and weight - 12 grams. Butterfly larvae are 12 cm long and 3 cm thick. The wings and abdomen of Queen Alexandra's bird-flies are painted dark brown with white color and cream or yellow ornament. At present, this one of the largest butterflies in the world is prohibited to be caught and sold, since the number of this species is small.


Парусник антимах – крупная дневная бабочка из семейства Парусники. Размах крыльев этой бабочки, названной в честь героя греческой мифологии, достигает 25 см. Самки превосходят по своим габаритам самцов. Парусник антимах обитает во влажных лесах Африки. Самки чаще всего обитают в верхушках деревьев. Эта одна из самых крупных бабочек обладает красно-желтым, оранжевым и даже цвета охры фоном крыльев, на котором образуют рисунок темно-коричневые пятна.

Тизания агриппины

Эта ночная бабочка под названием тизания агриппины (лат. Thysania agrippina), or scoop of agrippina, lives on the territory of the tropical rain forests of South and Central America. The largest known to science representatives of this species was caught in Brazil, and its wingspan reached 29.8 centimeters.

Tizania Agrippina

Queen Alexandra Birdwing

The butterfly called Queen Alexandra's bird-wing, or Queen Alexandra's ornithopter (Latin Ornithoptera alexandrae), is the world's largest daily butterfly. These butterflies live only on the island of New Guinea and, unfortunately, are so rare that they are even listed in the International Red Book as an endangered species. The wingspan of this butterfly reaches 27 centimeters, and the males and females differ significantly in color and shape of the wings.

Queen Alexandra's bird leopard: male above, female below

Peacock oatmeal

The peacock-eyed oat-flakes, or Koscinocera oat-flakes (Latin Coscinocera hercules), is also a moth and lives in Australia and Papua New Guinea. The wingspan of this beauty reaches 26-27 centimeters, and the caterpillars grow to 10 centimeters in length. In this species, females and males also have different color and shape of wings.

Trogonopter Trojan

Another beauty, who occupies the 8th place in our list of giants, is the trogonopter trojan (lat. Trogonoptera trojana). A very rare butterfly that lives only on Palawan Island (Philippines). The wingspan of this species reaches 17-19 centimeters. Males have smaller sizes, but their color is brighter.