Southern birdwing
CITES Appendix II (CITES)[1]
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Papilionidae
Genus: Troides
T. minos
Binomial name
Troides minos
Cramer, 1779

Troides minos, the southern birdwing,[2][3] also called Sahyadri birdwing,[4] is a large and striking swallowtail butterfly endemic to South India.[2][3] 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.[5]

It was earlier considered a subspecies of the common birdwing (Troides helena) but is now recognised as a valid species.[2][3]

The species is more common in the Western Ghats of South India, which is a biodiversity hotspot with a high degree of endemism in many taxa. It is much sought after by collectors and is a highlight of many butterfly tours in the Western Ghats. It is the state butterfly of Karnataka, India.[6]


Further information: External morphology of Lepidoptera

Underside of female

Description from Charles Thomas Bingham (1907) The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma, Butterflies. Volume II.

Male and female. Differs from Troides helena cerberus as follows.


Western Ghats and parts of the Eastern Ghats.


The butterfly is locally very common in the southern and central Western Ghats covering the states of Karnataka and Kerala. Also found in southern Maharashtra and northern Goa where it is uncommon. Despite its restricted range and endemicity, the butterfly is not known to be threatened but the IUCN recommends continuous monitoring.


Found up to 3,000 feet (910 m) in the Western Ghats. Found in diverse habitats from low-land evergreen forests near the coast to mixed deciduous forests, dry scrub and agricultural fields.


Active during early morning hours when both sexes feed in the forest on Lantana and diverse food plants. Later on, it is seen sailing as high as 30 to 40 feet (9.1 to 12.2 m) over the countryside until it descends later in the evening to feed again. It flies in a leisurely manner circling around jungle clearings and also frequents hill tops. A determined flier, it is known to cover very large distances before settling. The only food source is nectar, it also visits gardens and orchards and sips from domestic plants such as Mussaenda, Ixora and Lantana.

Life cycle

Though it flies all the year round, it is abundant in the during monsoon and post-monsoon periods.


Spherical eggs laid singly on the edges of the undersides of young leaves and shoots.[7]


Velvety maroon red with shiny black head and four rows of fleshy bright red tubercles. Grey markings on the back with a broad oblique pink white band on the 7th and 8th segments. These are heavily parasitised by tiny braconid wasps.[7]


Pale brown or green, marked with fine brown striations and minute markings. Found on the underside of leaves. If touched, it sways and makes hissing sounds.[7]

Food plants

The larval host plants of these butterflies are small creepers and climbers of the family Aristolochiaceae such as Aristolochia indica, Aristolochia tagala, Thottea siliquosa and Bragantia wallichii [4] The host plant toxins sequestered by the butterfly during its larval stage make it unpalatable to predators. Its flight and bright colouration advertise its unpalatability.

Related species

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

See also


  1. ^ "Appendices | CITES". Retrieved 2022-01-14.
  2. ^ a b c Varshney, R.K.; Smetacek, Peter (2015). A Synoptic Catalogue of the Butterflies of India. New Delhi: Butterfly Research Centre, Bhimtal & Indinov Publishing. p. 7. doi:10.13140/RG.2.1.3966.2164. ISBN 978-81-929826-4-9.
  3. ^ a b c Savela, Markku. "Troides minos (Cramer, [1779])". Lepidoptera and Some Other Life Forms. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Troides minos - Sahyadri Birdwing - Butterflies of India". Retrieved 2021-05-31.
  5. ^ "IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Troides minos". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 25 January 2018.
  6. ^ The, Hindu (May 17, 2017). "State gets its own butterfly". Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Public Domain One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain: Bingham, C.T. (1907). The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Vol. II (1st ed.). London: Taylor and Francis, Ltd. pp. 16–17.
  8. ^ Moore, Frederic (1901–1903). Lepidoptera Indica. Vol. V. Vol. 5. London: Lovell Reeve and Co. pp. 142–145.